Leafy Green

A Springy, Multi-Purpose Spread with an Earth-Saving Secret

April 30, 2017

From this day forward, you will no longer be bummed out by wilty, bruised lettuce leaves.

(A bold—but true—claim.)

Photo by Mark Weinberg

In fact, you might even begin to feel a bit giddy if your greens are a little battered because it means a batch of lettuce jam is in your future.

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I know. Lettuce jam sounds… strange at best, but stay with me, because to try it is to love it.

This condiment was new to me, but transforming lingering greens into a savory spread isn't a new idea—Paula Wolfert makes an herb-laden version and Merrill fell for one served with bread at Locanda Vini e Olii in Brooklyn. (If you want to try and recreate that one, she suspects it's just romaine that they put in a food processor with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil.)

Today's version comes from Jenn Louis’ new cookbook, The Book of Greens, which we already know is packed full of intriguing recipes for a wide range of greens.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Louis first had lettuce jam at Press restaurant in Napa Valley, California, made by chef Trevor Kunk:

It is like a salsa verde, but served like a dip. I find it magical and simple at the same time, not to mention a great use of the outside, imperfect leaves of frisée, romaine, Little Gem lettuce, or even a mix of them all.

Louis cooks the lettuce leaves and some shallots and then blends them along with capers, cornichons, Dijon mustard, and a little salt in a food processor until a creamy paste forms. The resulting spread is tangy and addictive—you'll find a variety of uses for it: as a dip for vegetables, a spread for tartines and sandwiches, or a sauce for the protein of your choice. I chose to hoard my jar in the back of the fridge and eat it with a spoon.

Putting less-than-perfect lettuce to good use is a smart move, but please use common sense when assessing which wilty greens are okay to eat. Limp leaves are fine, as are lightly bruised or battered ones. Leaves that are melting into a pile of their own slime belong in the compost bin.

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap? Tell me about it! Send me an email ([email protected]) or tell all in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure! Thanks to Ali for spotting this little gem.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Fud Dud
    Fud Dud
  • Melissa H
    Melissa H
  • Saffron3
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Fud D. September 2, 2017
Except that's not jam. It's a dip, or a sauce, or any potential number of other things, but a jam is not one of them. A jam is pectin-gelled fruit or vegetables.

You can't just take words that mean one thing and use them for entirely different things, otherwise words have no meanings. You might as well call it "potato soup"
Melissa H. April 30, 2017
Just a note that wilted greens can often be revived by a soak in cold water and white vinegar. I use my salad spinner bowl and add about 1/4 cup of vinegar and ice to the tap water and greens I'm washing. Let it sit for about ten minutes, or until the ice melts. I saw this trick years ago on Alton Brown's Good Eats. It does something to the cellular structure of the greens. It really works, I've saved some sad lettuce this way many times!
Saffron3 April 30, 2017
Verrry interesting information! I'm going to try both rehab and jam. Thanks!