Make Ahead

Shalotta, Mom's Pickled Lettuce Condiment

September 11, 2012
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 quart
Author Notes

It may seem strange and unusual to learn about pickled lettuce, but believe me it is a very tasty and useful condiment. Everywhere you use vegetable pickles, this sweet and sour condiment will add a bright and piquant flavor. Growing up we couldn’t wait for the beginning of fresh lettuce season so our Mom could make this condiment. You can use it in all kind of sandwiches instead of cucumber pickles or in tacos instead of cabbage slaw, or also just as an accompaniment to meat and fish dishes. I like to lightly squeeze out the pickling liquid, add a little fragrant extra-virgin olive oil, some freshly chopped dill and cucumber slices and eat it as a salad. Try it and I am sure you’ll find a lot of creative ways for using this condiment. —Kukla

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Kukla is a classical pianist based in California.
WHAT: A condiment that will confound you, and then win you over.
HOW: Make a salad, pickle it.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love the versatility of this: it adds crunch and brightness on top of things, tucked in them, or on the side of them. It also works well as a salad on its own. Cucumber pickles, step aside. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 large bunches Green Leaf or 2 medium heads Iceberg lettuce, washed and dried
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium bunch fresh dill, thick stems removed and fronds roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, tart cherries, or raisins
  • 1 cup boiled warm water
  • 1/2 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or your favorite hot chile pepper, finely diced
  1. Trim the ends of the green leaf lettuce and chop it in about ¾-inch wide ribbons. If using iceberg lettuce, core it, slice in half and then cut in about ¾-inch wide ribbons. Transfer to a very large bowl and toss with garlic, dill, and dried berries.
  2. In a measuring cup combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature and then pour over the lettuce.
  3. Cover the bowl with a shallow plate that is a little smaller in diameter and place something heavy on top to press down the lettuce mixture. Let stand for about 2 hours, then pack tightly into a quart container and pour the pickling liquid over the top. Cover and chill until ready to use. It will keep fresh in the refrigerator for more than 1 week.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Steve Keip
    Steve Keip
  • I_Fortuna
  • Kukla
  • AntoniaJames
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx

76 Reviews

Judy October 20, 2021
Hi there...WOW! I need to try this! I pickle and preserve and sell my products at the local farmers market...I have never thought of pickling lettuce...Is it something that can be processed for shelf life or is it to be eaten up right away? I am so enlightened...Thank you so much! Looking forward to a reply!
Dana M. October 20, 2021
It's not meant to be hot water processed. Hope you'll give it a try; it's delicious.
Judy October 20, 2021
Hi Dana... Thank u so much for your reply... I kind of assumed what your reply said... I will totally try it for my family.🥰
Dana M. November 12, 2020
Though this recipe has been around for quite a while, it's remarkable how I return to it year after year and now I'm sharing it again with friends. It's very special, unique, flexible, and most importantly, delicious. Thanks to Kukla and Food52.
Kelsey February 17, 2019
Delicious! I subbed oregano for dill for a more texmex flavor as I had it originally with black beans and avocado. Added some apples and almonds to the leftovers for a quick, bright salad.
Steve K. March 9, 2018
Made this for dinner last night. Used Romaine Lettuce. It was a hit!! A little strong on the Garlic and Dill for our taste, but this is a definite make again!! Curious to see how the little bit that was left is texture-wise today.
I_Fortuna June 15, 2014
If you leave out the vinegar until AfTeR the lettuce pickles then the lettuce will stay crispier. Generously salt the lettuce (don't add extra water or liquid) and weigh it down as instructed and wait. Pour off the excess water and rinse the lettuce well with fresh water, drain well and proceed. Vinegar (acidic) fights the action of the salt (alkaline) and cancels it out so keep from using it until the end. The lettuce will keep fresh longer but will disappear fast because it is more crispy and delicious.

Kukla June 11, 2013
So, I was right to write: “Try it and I am sure you’ll find a lot of creative ways for using this condiment” in the end of my head note to this recipe! I had in mind Creative cooks like you, AJ; and I will definitely use the vinaigrette you created.
BTW I forgot to mention that my Mom used to make the same pickling liquid for marinating roasted Bell and Cherry peppers and so do I. Thank you again AJ for all the kind comments!!!
AntoniaJames June 11, 2013
I posted this on the Hotline thread relating to uses for pickle juice; I'm posting here because those of you who aren't following that thread will, no doubt, find it interesting. The juice from this Shalotta (one of my favorite recipes on FOOD52 in 2013) makes an exceptional vinaigrette. For a fresh, very light but flavor-packed dressing, I go 1 to 1 with the olive oil, adding a heaping teaspoon of Dijon mustard for each 1/4 cup of vinegar, and a few drops of honey and a tiny splash of soy sauce. I also strip-mine and save a few of the vinegar-y cranberries from the shalotta to use in the salad on which I use the dressing. This is so good, especially on salads into which I've tossed a small handful of nuts. If you like Shalotta, you'll love the dressing! ;o)
Kate's K. May 26, 2013
Thank you Kukla!
Kukla May 26, 2013
You are very welcome Kate!
Kate's K. May 26, 2013
Hi Kukla - I have a question - does your finished product usually have a more wilted look than the photo? I ask because instead of using iceberg or napa as you suggest I pulled a butter crunch lettuce from my garden that was getting a little tough because our weather is heating up. I thought it would stand up well. BTW, The taste is delicious and may try the same recipe on some blanched sugar snap peas.
Kukla May 26, 2013
I think the food52 photo was taken as soon as they made the Shalotta, because as it stays for awhile it does wilt a little. I never made this condiment with Butter lettuce. In my opinion, Greenleaf, Iceberg and Romaine lettuces and Napa and Savoy Cabbages are the best to use. I like your idea about the sugar snap peas; it is also delicious to marinate roasted bell peppers in the same pickling liquid. Thanks for the comment Kate, and have a nice weekend.
nanw. May 21, 2013
good to know
nanw. May 20, 2013
this was so amazing! usually iceberg lettuce is a turn-off, but you changed my mind completly!!! i have served this to many friends and family who eat it u with gusto! you have given us a new fave!
Kukla May 21, 2013
Thank you nanw., it so nice to get such comments! Actually any lettuce and even a delicate cabbage such as Savoy or Napa are working very well in this recipe.
sexyLAMBCHOPx May 17, 2013
Great recipe. I love it with iceberg lettuce. I've had it as a salad and layered on a chicken cutlet sandwich. I add whatever veggies I have in the fridge as well - cabbage (usually red) and carrots. Splenda works great for anyone that needs to sub out regular sugar.
Kukla May 17, 2013
I am so glad sexyLAMBCHOPx you like this recipe and use it in many variations! Thanks for the nice comment.
loubaby May 16, 2013
I never would even think to make something like this, but with you winning a contest with it and all these wonderful could I not!!...will definitely make this for my next fish tacos...thanks so much
Kukla May 16, 2013
Thank you loubaby for the nice comment!
inpatskitchen May 16, 2013
Yay Kukla!! So happy for you...your recipe looks and sounds wonderful!!
Kukla May 16, 2013
Thank you, thank you Pat; hope you all give it a try!
Bevi May 15, 2013
Congrats Kukla! This is a lovely recipe.
Kukla May 16, 2013
Thank you Bevi!! It is simple, but flavorful.
Congratulations on your win! Can't wait to make this.
Kukla May 15, 2013
Thank you very much DSOTS!
AntoniaJames May 15, 2013
I am so happy for you, Kukla. Congratulations! This is one of my favorite recipes on FOOD52, ever. ;o)
Kukla May 15, 2013
I am so glad AJ you like this simple recipe so much; it is a special honor to receive such thrilling comment from you!!!
mrslarkin May 15, 2013
Kukla, I made this over the weekend. So tasty and easy. My mother in law asked for the recipe. Congratulations!
Kukla May 15, 2013
Thank you so very much Mrs. Larkin! It is even a little embracing that such a simple recipe is a winner. I am going to make your Caramel Sauce for my granddaughters graduating party on Friday to serve it over cheese blintzes. Thanks again and Congratulations to you too!!!
AntoniaJames May 15, 2013
Sounds amazing . . . I'm looking forward to making that caramel sauce, too!
lapadia May 14, 2013
Yay to being in the finals, Kukla! I look forward to our lettuce harvest so that I can make this recipe with some of it. Also, I made your winning radish recipe over the that lime dressing :)
Kukla May 14, 2013
Thank you so much Linda for as always kind comment!
Congrats!! What an intriguing recipe!
Kukla May 14, 2013
Thanks M&M!