Beat the heat with this butter lettuce salad

Nothing is less inspiring than a plain, boring salad for lunch. Between the crispy lettuce, zesty sauce, and crunchy capers, this butter lettuce salad is anything but boring. It’s sophisticated enough for your next dinner party but simple enough to throw together for a quick, nutritious lunch.

Salad days

We love the crispy capers in this salad. They add a slightly salty, crunchy bite that’s perfect alongside the other simple ingredients. Capers are also tiny nutritional powerhouses. They’re native to the Mediterranean, which is why you’ll find them as a staple in the Mediterranean diet. Capers are rich in rutin, which is a type of antioxidant. Rutin is an essential phytonutrient because it’s been shown to strengthen and increase the flexibility of our blood vessels. It helps decrease the chance of blood clots and adds to overall heart health.

Studies have also shown that rutin can improve cholesterol. Specifically, daily rutin consumption has been tied to a decrease in plasma LDL cholesterol. Rutin has also been shown to suppress oxidative stress in individuals who have arthritis. This isn’t surprising since rutin has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In addition to their rutin content, capers are high in iron, calcium, and copper. It’s also thought that the enzymes in capers help break down certain fats found in animal products. Regularly pairing capers with fattier cuts of meats can help with digestion and overall health.

Chickpea power

We love including roasted chickpeas in this salad, as they add richness to the refreshing butter lettuce. Chickpeas also round out this salad into a complete meal by providing ample fiber and protein to help encourage sustenance. While you can certainly serve this salad as a side dish, we think the chickpeas allow it to stand on its own as a complete meal. The fiber content found in chickpeas encourages smooth digestion, helps build healthy gut bacteria, and can keep constipation at bay.

The butter lettuce and thinly sliced red onions add a freshness to this dish that makes it ideal for warmer months. One of the main benefits of butter lettuce is its high water content. Especially in higher heat, it’s crucial to drink fluids and eat foods high in water (like fruits and vegetables). Butter lettuce is also a good source of vitamin A, an essential nutrient for overall skin appearance and health. Red onions are also helpful in improving skin health, thanks to their high vitamin C content. Vitamin C is required by the body to produce collagen. Collagen helps keep our skin elastic and smooth. Since natural collagen production decreases as we age, it’s imperative to include good vitamin C sources (like red onions) in your diet. 

Ingredients:

Salad

2 large heads of butter lettuce

1 16 oz. can chickpeas

3 tablespoons capers

1/2 small red onion (or 1/4 large)

Olive oil for cooking chickpeas and capers

salt and pepper

Dressing

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

optional: 1 teaspoon maple syrup (if not cleansing)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Step 1: Roast chickpeas. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse, drain, and thoroughly dry chickpeas. Toss with a light layer of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet in a single layer, careful not to overcrowd. Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through, until crispy and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Step 2: While chickpeas roast, fry capers. Drain water from capers and pat dry. Pour a light layer of olive oil into a non-stick pan and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add capers. Cook, occasionally stirring, until crispy (about 1-2 minutes). Drain capers and set them aside.

Step 3: Make the dressing. Peel and mince garlic. Whisk garlic with remaining ingredients and set aside.

Step 4: Thinly slice the red onion. Rinse and thoroughly dry butter lettuce. Once capers and chickpeas are cooled, toss with half of the chickpeas, capers, and red onion. Add dressing slowly, only using as much as you need (you can save the remaining dressing for use later). Top salad with remaining chickpeas, capers, and red onion and serve immediately. 

Recipe and photography by Kaitlyn Noble

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