Bibb lettuce also goes by the name butter lettuce. Its tender and sweet leaves are commonly used as salad greens. However, that is not all they are good for. They are also used as edible vessels especially for people on a low-carb diet. I particularly love grilled beef lettuce wraps and tacos. The sweet lettuce complements all the other ingredients.
So what is Bibb lettuce? Bibb lettuce is a variety of butterhead lettuces that have loosely coiled and smooth leaves. The leaves are usually dark green in color, although some varieties have a purple or deep reddish hue. A lot of people describe the flavor of Bibb lettuce as mild and sweet. Bibb lettuce is closely related to Boston lettuce which is very common in the United States.
The origin of Bibb lettuce can be traced back to the Mediterranean. To date, the locals there still enjoy Bibb lettuce in a variety of dishes.
What does Bibb lettuce taste like?
Although Bibb lettuce is also called butter lettuce, it does not have a buttery flavor. However, its silky soft texture gives you the feeling that it is melting in your mouth.
Bibb lettuce has a mildly sweet flavor that appeals to many. It also has some floral notes that complement meat and ripened cheeses.
Where to buy Bibb lettuce
I think it is safe to say that all grocery stores stock Bibb lettuce. The lettuce is usually sold with its roots attached because the roots help preserve their freshness. You are likely to find Bibb lettuce covered with a plastic dome. The plastic dome helps protect the delicate leaves and roots of Bibb lettuce.
You can also buy Bibb lettuce at a farmers’ market close to you. Most of the vendors usually bag them with other lettuce blends.
Choosing the best Bibb lettuce
Now that you know where to buy Bibb lettuce, you need to know how to choose the best. While buying Bibb lettuce, go for the ones that have leafy rosettes. They should also be heavy and dense for their size.
Do not choose Bibb lettuce that has brown edges or wilted outer leaves. If the leaves are flaccid or wilted, the Bibb lettuce is not fresh.
Bibb lettuce varieties
There are several varieties of Bibb lettuce in the market. There are those that have bright green leaves, those that have a purple or deep reddish hue, and those that have both green and purple or reddish hue.
The one with green leaves is usually more tender compared to the other two, but all the varieties have the same mild flavor and can be used in the same way.
Prepping Bibb lettuce
All lettuces have a tendency to trap soil in their leaves. Therefore, it is important that you wash Bibb lettuce thoroughly in lots of water to get rid of the dirt.
You should wash the lettuce as many times as it takes to get rid of all the soil. I personally prefer separating the leaves then soaking them in water. Once they have soaked for a few minutes, I lift the leaves out of the water and leave the soil behind.
Once you wash the Bibb lettuce, you should dry it completely. I highly recommend using a spinner to dry the leaves. If you do not have one, just use kitchen towels.
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Bibb lettuce uses
Bibb lettuce can be used in several ways. Here are a few of my favorite uses.
Bibb lettuce is a common salad ingredient. There are hundreds of salad recipes that call for Bibb lettuce. Bibb leaves are rich and juicy and they complement all salad ingredients. They also add a certain freshness and sweetness to dishes.
As a wrap
Bibb lettuce can be used as a wrap for seasoned beef or chicken, pork, and taco fillings. It is the perfect vessel for those on a low-carb diet.
You can use Bibb lettuce in sandwiches. Simply stack your sandwich with a few Bibb leaves for that green crunch. I love using Bibb lettuce in sandwiches because of its mild flavor which does not overwhelm other sandwich ingredients.
How to properly store Bibb lettuce
It is important that you store Bibb lettuce properly so that it stays fresh for as long as possible.
If you buy Bibb lettuce that has its roots attached, you should store the lettuce head in its original plastic bag or container. Always leave the roots intact and keep them moist. The roots play a major role in preserving the freshness of the lettuce head.
In case you buy Bibb lettuce that does not have its roots attached, the storage process is a bit different. First, wash the leaves thoroughly. You can soak them in water to make your work much easier. Once clean, dry the leaves. You can either use a spinner, or kitchen towels depending on your preference.
Once dry, wrap the Bibb leaves in paper towels and seal them in a plastic bag. Store the Bibb lettuce in your refrigerator. The leaves will stay fresh for approximately one week.
In case you intend to serve the lettuce as lettuce cups in a few hours, I suggest submerging the cleaned lettuce in cold water in a large bowl and then place the bowl inside the refrigerator. The lettuce will be cold and crisp, just the way everyone loves it. Drain the water and dry the Bibb leaves with a kitchen towel before serving. Always be gentle since the leaves are very delicate.
Health benefits of Bibb lettuce
Bibb lettuce has several nutritional benefits. For starters, it contains vitamins A, B, C, and K. It is also packed with sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Additionally, Bibb lettuce has a very high water content.
Bibb lettuce is sometimes used as herbal medicine in Europe. It eases the digestion process and also treats insomnia. Bibb lettuce also fights off inflammatory diseases and helps fortify the body’s bones.
As you can see, Bibb lettuce is as tasty as it is healthy.
My favorite Bibb lettuce recipe: Simple Bibb lettuce salad recipe
I love this recipe for two main reasons. One, it is simple and straightforward. Literally, anyone can follow it and make an amazing salad. Two, it will only take you 20 minutes to prepare. Pretty convenient, right? Here is how to make a simple Bibb lettuce salad.
- 2 heads of Bibb lettuce
- 1 tablespoon of chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
- ½ cup thinly slashed radishes
- Kosher salt
- Finely crushed black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of mustard
- Separate the Bibb leaves. Do this carefully since the leaves are very delicate.
- Wash the leaves thoroughly. Make sure that no soil remains trapped on the leaves.
- Once clean, use a kitchen towel to gently dry the Bibb leaves.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, black pepper and salt. This will make your vinaigrette.
- Once completely combined, add in your lettuce, parsley, fresh mint, and slashed radishes. Toss the ingredients together so that they are all covered by the vinaigrette.
- Serve the salad immediately.
Bibb lettuce wraps
Bibb lettuce wraps are always a winner. My favorite wrap is the ground pork lettuce wrap. I make it with Asian sauce that is to die for. Here is how you can make ground pork lettuce wraps. It will take you about 25 minutes to whip it up.
- A pound of ground pork
- 16 leaves of Bibb lettuce
- 1 ½ cup of cilantro leaves
- 1 ½ cup of carrots
- 1 ½ cup of bean sprouts
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of mustard
- 1 tablespoon of Sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 4 ounces of water chestnuts
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- ¾ cup of minced onion
- 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger root
- ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon of black peper
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
Step one: Cook the pork
- In a large skillet, cook the pork. Add the onions, salt, and black pepper, and cook until the pork is no longer pink. Stir the pork to break it up. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Then add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, soil, peanut butter, chili sauce, and water.
- Add the water chestnuts and let the pork cook for two minutes or until the onions are soft and the chestnuts are heated through.
Step two: Prepare the Asian drizzling sauce
In a small ball, whisk together 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, mustard, Sriracha, and toasted Sesame oil. Mix them together until the mixture is smooth. You will drizzle this sauce over the 16 Bibb lettuce leaves.
Step three: Serve
Spoon some pork onto a lettuce leaf. Add some toppings like bean sprouts, carrots, and cilantro leaves. Drizzle the sauce you made over the ingredients. Wrap the lettuce leaf and enjoy!