Seared Romaine Lettuce Bottoms

Gentl & Hyers

I made this at ACME restaurant and it turned out to be so popular that we ended up with too many wilting lettuce leaves left over. So I started using the lettuce to make Wilted Romaine Cream Sauce (below) to go with the bottoms. Recipe serves four; add additional bottoms for more servings.

Scraps, Wilts + WeedsScraps, Wilts + Weed
by Mads Refslund & Tama Matsuoka Wong


  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other light vegetable oil
  • 4 (3- to 4-inch) romaine lettuce bottoms, trimmed of brown-orange edges and cut flat on the top so they can sit in the pan
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Wilted Romaine Cream Sauce (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons Thyme Scraps Oil (recipe below)


Heat the grapeseed oil in a large saucepan over high heat, until sizzling but not smoking. Add the lettuce bottoms, cut sides down, and sear for 3 minutes, until the bottoms are caramelized and golden brown. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with the lemon juice and salt.

To serve, spoon the sauce on each of 4 plates and arrange a seared bottom on top. Drizzle with the thyme oil and serve.

* * *

Wilted Romain Cream Sauce
Makes 3 cups
Time: 15 minutes

The sauce is so adaptable for use in a number of vegetable scraps and as a dip for crudités, lettuce wrap, with pork chops, and to top a salad. Substitute freely in any recvipe calling for "creamy Ranch dressing."


  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral vebetable oil
  • 2 small shallots, roughly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 damaged whole romaine lettuce leaves (old, torn, and wilted is good)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus 1 lemon for squeezing


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-hight heat. Add the shallots, onion, and garlic and sauté for about 7 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the cream, and cook for 1 minute, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan.

Pour the sauce into a blender. Add the lettuce leaves and puree until very smooth. Season with salt and lemon juice. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

After pouring the dressing, top with a drizzle of Thyme Scraps Oil (below).

* * *

Thyme Scraps Oil
Makes 1 cup
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: overnight

Herb oils add both depth and nuance to dishes, and they are so simple to make. Use leftover packets and odd bits of herbs. Thyme oil is essential to the Wilted Romaine Cream Sauce recipe, and complements many other proteins: fish and meat as well as vegetable dishes.


  • 1 bunch (1/4 cup) thyme leaves and parts
  • 1 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed of safflower


In a blender, combine the thyme and oil at high speed for a few seconds, until just turning green. Strain into a small bowl through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Keep the strainer in the bowl and refrigerate overnight to let the thyme slowly infuse into the oil. The oil should become a brilliant green. Store in a dark container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

* * *

This is an excerpt from Scraps, Wilt + Weeds: Turning Wasted Food Into Plenty by Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong. Copyright © 2017 by Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Life & Style, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Cook time: 
Serves 4
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