Pan-fried lettuce…that sounds crazy, right? The idea that you’d take a vegetable traditionally served chilled, a vegetable that’s typically consumed along with an assortment of garnishments designed mostly to hide the flavor, and intentionally heat it, wilt it, and season it only with ingredients intended to enhance it’s natural flavor.
Well, call me crazy, because I love this stuff. It’s such a unique, quick, and inexpensive side dish. The romaine is seasoned only with the garlic-infused olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s pan-fried at high heat, so the romaine gets hot and wilted without losing it’s natural crunch.
You could throw in any spices you like, but I prefer to keep it simple. I tend to crave crunchy, salty foods and, while I won’t try to pretend this lettuce is a substitute for potato chips, it does fill a little of that void.
pan-fried romaine lettuce
2 heads of romaine lettuce, washed
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed but not chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat oil and garlic in a heavy pan over medium-high heat (a cast iron skillet works best for this). If your stove cooks hot, like mine, use medium heat instead. Meanwhile, pull the leaves off the romaine, stack them, and cut into one inch sections.
Once oil is hot- like, popping hot- and garlic is browning, add lettuce. You’ll want to drop all the lettuce in at once, because it’ll make the oil pop. If the pan is full of lettuce, it won’t pop out and onto you. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and use tongs or a spatula to toss the romaine around, letting it wilt down.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until lettuce has wilted a little and browned in spots. Transfer cooked romaine to a plate, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve immediately.
What do you think of cooking lettuce?