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Wilted Lettuce Salad

I asked a reader what wilted lettuce salad was and she said “Oh…I think I’ve had some of that before. You mean floppy lettuce that was too old to be served and we ate it anyway?” I laughed. Poor girl is from the West Coast, bless her heart. 

A bowl of wilted lettuce salad topped with boiled eggs with a fork on one side and green onions in the background

We won’t hold it against my buddy that she’s not southern. But chances are, you’re just like her–and have no idea what a wilted lettuce salad is. Let me help: it’s a spiritual experience in a bowl. When I fed this to my son after I made it, I stuffed a bite in his mouth and as he chewed, he slowly closed his eyes and put his head down.

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    A second later his hand raised in the air.

    Confused, my husband and I looked at each other. Then we laughed our heads off. Logan was having a moment of praise with his wilted lettuce salad. And he was pretty much right. It’s that good.

    What makes it so awesome?

    a bowl of wilted lettuce salad on a blue gingham napkin and two forks

    It’s the “dressing” which I have to think came about as desperate country cooks tried to find ways to use cheap ingredients to make something taste good. This is proof that it can be done. Don’t panic when you see how much bacon grease is in this recipe! You won’t notice it, I promise.

    Your arteries might–but your mouth won’t.

    Basically what we are gonna do here is cook some bacon, save some of the drippings, add some vinegar and sugar and onion and heat it up–then pour it over our lettuce so that it softens a bit (okay, wilts).

    The dressing will almost remind you of cole slaw’s sweet and tangy mix–add the crumbled bacon to the top and a hard boiled egg and it’s just fantastic. It’s also a nice change up from your regular salads and something fun to try on guests when you need some interesting table discussion.

    You can blame the whole thing on me.

    Southern to its roots, wilted lettuce salad isn't floppy lettuce with dressing. It's a sweet and sour flavor explosion. No floppy lettuce needed.

    Wilted Lettuce Salad

    A southern classic, wilted lettuce salad was the way grandmothers used to make do with what they had but the combination of bacon grease (yes that's what I said), vinegar, and sugar makes the most divine dressing served warm over greens. 
    Prep Time 6 minutes
    Cook Time 2 minutes
    Total Time 8 minutes
    Servings 6 -8
    Author Rachel Ballard

    Ingredients
      

    • 5 slices of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
    • 1/4 cup bacon drippings you can get rid of the rest of it
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 2 green onion tops sliced
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 6-8 cups torn lettuce pieces (I use mixed greens but anything will work except Romaine)
    • 1 hard boiled egg diced

    Instructions
     

    • Once you have cooked your bacon and drained all but 1/4 cup bacon drippings from your skillet, return the pan to low heat and add the vinegar, water, sugar, green onions, salt and pepper and stir to dissolve the sugar--about 1 minute.
    • Heat the dressing until very warm but not boiling and turn off the heat.
    • Pour the dressing over your lettuce and toss well.
    • Add the bacon and crumbled egg and serve warm.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 204kcal
    Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
    Course Side Dish
    Cuisine American

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    36 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      Pretty much the way my 1st generation American Slovak Mother made this when I was growing up. The only thing is, we never added a hard boiled egg to it. This is also a very Central and Eastern European way to make a lettuce salad. You will find versions of this all the way from Germany east through the Ukraine. Mom would grow Oak Leaf Lettuce and she’s pick a bunch of it and we’d feast on this at many a supper during the summer. Something comforting about a good homemade meatloaf, Mom’s toasted rice, corn on the cob and wilted lettuce salad. Finish it off with a good peach cobbler or just-warm blueberry pie for dessert, topped off with a scoop of a good vanilla ice cream on either one. Feast for a King!

    2. 5 stars
      This recipe is such a comfort food for me… And, as a kid growing up in central Florida my mother (who is Originally from GA) would make this. I would smell the bacon cooking & I automatically knew what she was making. And to me as a child of 9yrs old thought that it was such a delicately. I wasn’t 100% sure how to make it & I came across your recipe & it’s almost just like the version she would make for us. What awesome memeories I to cherish… Thanks so much!

    3. Glad to have found this recipe. Couldn’t find my grandmother’s. West Coast, PNW person here as well. It’s a thing here, but it’s an old school recipe. Thank you for sharing! Can’t wait to eat!

    4. Thank you. Exact recipe I was hoping to find. We had it the whole time I was growing up, during gardening season. I am, by the way from the west coast. Pacific Northwest actually. Not just a southern thing.

      1. I don’t know Vickie! Every way I’ve ever had it was with a boiled egg but I bet there were women out there who cooked their eggs in the bacon grease. Do what you like! –Rachel

      2. Vickie – Nope, my great grandma whisked an egg in the dressing sort of as an emulsifier, gives the dressing a bit more body and silkiness.

      3. Yes, I remember it that way too and have made it that way but 40 years ago!!! Trying to make it tonight, don’t remember exactly how it was done, don’t want egg to curdle!!!

      4. @sharon,
        yes,you wisk the eggs(2) together then wisk them into the dressing mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Be sure to wisk the dressing the entire time so the eggs don’t turn into scrambled eggs!!

    5. Loved this when I was a kid. My mom only made it in the spring as she always used dandelion greens which she said would get bitter in the summer.

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