Bored of limp leaves? Lettuce is a lot more versatile that just being served cold and dressed in a salad.

There are many ways to use lettuce as a cooking ingredient: as a wrap, in a soup, or even, yes, in a salad—but griddled or blanched, which render the leaves more exciting than when raw.

The next time you’re looking at the lettuce in the crisper drawer of the fridge, it doesn’t have to be a case of, “Sigh. Another salad.” You can let you imagination run wild—here are 10 ideas to get you started.

 

1. Shrimp spring roll bowl with peanut lime dressing


Image via Jennifer Banz

We’re starting with something straightforward: a salad. But this isn’t just a pile of lettuce with some vinaigrette splashed on top; it’s a delicious-looking meal in a bowl with shrimp and a peanut dressing, all inspired by spring rolls.

Get the recipe for shrimp spring roll bowl with peanut lime dressing

 

2. Fat-free pea and lettuce soup


Image via Fuss Free Flavours

Most of us have been eating lettuce in a salad for a while. Fewer of us will have had lettuce in a soup, but for those who haven’t, this is a delicious recipe. It’s also very simple to make, especially so if you have a power blender.

Get the recipe for fat-free pea and lettuce soup

 

3. Grilled romaine hearts with figs, pear and Manchego


Image via Kitchen Sanctuary

A wonderfully colourful salad, with romaine hearts, figs and walnut; the sweetness of the fruit is offset by the salty manchego cheese. Griddling the romaine hearts adds a savoury element, as do the nuts.

Get the recipe for grilled romaine hearts with figs, pear and Manchego

 

4. Iceberg lettuce with oyster sauce

Image via Red House Spice

Working out what to do with iceberg lettuce is always a bit of a head-scratcher. Yes, it has a crunch, but it isn’t the most interestingly flavoured salad leaf, by a long way. Here’s a great plan: blanch the lettuce and then serve with oyster sauce.

Get the recipe for iceberg lettuce with oyster sauce

 

5. Spring salad with edible flowers


Image via The View From Great Island

This is one to file away for next year, but it looks so amazing that I had to include it in this round-up. There are many flowers that are edible, and this recipe gives a guide. They’re perfect for lifting the way a salad looks from the humdrum into something really spectacular. 

Get the recipe for spring salad with edible flowers

 

6. Citrus & soy shrimp lettuce cups


Image via Killing Thyme

Lettuce can also make an excellent receptacle for something else, such as a tasty-looking mixture of shrimps and crisp vegetables dressed in a soy and citrus dressing.

Get the recipe for citrus & soy shrimp lettuce cups

 

7. Vegan salad spring rolls


Image via Pass Me Some Tasty

Just because you can use lettuce as a wrap doesn’t mean you have to. Rice paper wrappers can be filled with almost anything, but here are used in a quick and easy spring roll that doesn’t need cooking. Bursting with lettuce, peppers, carrots and cabbage, with extra flavours from basil and coriander, they look delicious. They’re vegan too!

Get the recipe for vegan salad spring rolls

 

8. Avocado charred corn salad cilantro ranch dressing


Image via Certified Pastry Aficionado

A salad, but what I particularly like about this salad is the charred corn. Griddled on the cob, and then sliced off for the salad, which also includes some quick pickled onions! Quick pickles are one of our favourite things to do, not just with onions but with many root vegetables.

Get the recipe for avocado charred corn salad cilantro ranch dressing

 

9. Refried bean lettuce wraps


Image via Laruen Caris Cooks

There are all sorts of things that you can use as the filling for a lettuce wrap, but here we have a Mexican-inspired refried bean version, with a little heat from jalapeno peppers.

Get the recipe for refried bean lettuce wraps

 

10. Leftover salad soup


Image via Fuss Free Flavours

Finally, if you have dressed a salad, but found that you had too much for your needs, you don’t have to throw it all away— it can be easily turned it soup, as here. Doubly easy with a power blender, but even if you don’t, it’s straightforward to make—and healthy.

Get the recipe for leftover salad soup

 

Helen Best-Shaw, is a freelance food & travel writer, recipe developer & photographer. She has been blogging at Fuss Free Flavours for over 10 years.

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