And a discussion of cutting versus tearing lettuce.
A similar recipe appeared in the July 30, 1975 edition of The (Canandaigua, New York) Daily Messenger:
Mrs. R. Donald Burch Jr.
Break lettuce in large salad bowl. Top with green peppers, celery, onion, and peas. Seal with mayonnaise. Top with grated cheese and bacon. Seal tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Garnish with cherry tomatoes before serving.
(This is a very rich salad and may be used as a main dish served with rolls.)
Ah, yes. Breaking the lettuce or tearing the lettuce, as opposed to cutting it. This is a bit of old-world voodoo that states that lettuce will brown slower if you cut it because you’ll do more damage to the cells than if you pull it apart.
Is it true? Maybe, if you’re going to keep your salad in the fridge for ten days before eating it. In reality, that wasn’t the only reason for tearing.
With many lettuces–red and green leaf, Boston, and romaine, for example–the ribs of larger leaves are flavorless water-bombs. Getting a big bite of rib in a salad is one of those things that will hurt your enjoyment without you even realizing exactly why you didn’t like the salad. So conventional preparation has you removing those ribs on the larger leaves and splitting them in half on smaller ones.
Green lettuce by Paul Tomlin, on Flickr (CC license)
In “breaking” the lettuce, you’d pull off a leaf, hold the rib with one hand, and tear off the leaf on either side; the tender and flavorful parts of the lettuce would come off while the rigid rib would be left behind. But there’s no reason you couldn’t do the same thing with a knife and have good results.
What I do is actually a hybrid–I cut the ribs out of the center (or cut them in half for smaller leaves), then rip the leaves into bite-size pieces. Most of the time I’m holding a paring knife in the way you might to peel a potato.
With iceberg lettuce, however, I’m not totally convinced there’s so much of an appreciable difference between the rib and the the leaf–it’s all pretty crunchy with a mild flavor. So I don’t think it impairs the enjoyment of iceberg to cut it up. But your results may vary. (While exposing the cut edges to something acidic could make it oxidize faster, if your mayonnaise is dripping into the lettuce at the bottom of the bowl in this recipe, it isn’t thick enough.)
From the box of Evia Marie Sands of Louisville, Kentucky.
Layered Salad (Lois)
1 head lettuce, broken into bits
1 c. diced celery
1 c. diced green pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen peas (uncooked)
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 cups mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
Place in large bowl in layers in order given through eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Stir mayonnaise until creamy and cover salad. Then sprinkle with the bacon bits and cheese. Cover with Saran Wrap and chill overnight or 8 hours.
Eat and enjoy!