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This post was inspired by the people in my family (that would be Bill and Tevis) who have a funky allele from the shallow end of the “food sensitivity” gene pool. That little chromosome modification makes eating raw lettuce a digestive disaster.


Yes, there are people who can’t eat raw lettuce. How weird is that? (This coming from someone who can’t eat gluten, bell peppers, black beans and eggplant. Or oysters, but that’s just because they’re icky.)

So, who says you have to eat lettuce raw?

Remember, you are the boss of your food. I find lettuce absolutely delicious sautéed and mixed in with other veggies and brown rice. Just like you would spinach or kale. What’s the difference? They’re all leafy and green.

sautéed lettuce and brown rice bowl (a favorite lunch of mine)
what you need

1 cup cooked brown rice (I love Golden Rose, but any brown or wild rice will do) *
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves minced garlic
1 to 2 cups washed and chopped lettuce (a thick and leafy type is best)
Spoonful of coconut oil (or oil of choice)
Several splashes of vegetable broth
Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and roasted nuts (optional)
Dusting of gomasio * (or dried herbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper)

what you do
Heat oil on low/medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté onions, carrots and celery for 5 to 7 minutes, stir often. They should be lightly cooked, but still crunchy. Add garlic and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and blend with veggies. If your rice is cold (cooked, but has been refrigerated), make sure you cook it long enough to heat it up. Add a splash of vegetable broth just enough to moisten the mix and prevent the rice and veggies from sticking to the pan. Add the lettuce and another splash of broth and stir well. Keep stirring and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until lettuce is wilted. You might even put the lid on the skillet and let it steam for a minute or two. Place in bowl, top with cheese and seasonings.

I’m not guaranteeing this will solve your food sensitivity problem, but many people have difficulties consuming raw veggies, lettuce included and they never think to cook it first. We cook all other veggies, why not lettuce?

I get lots of Romaine lettuce from my Grant Family Farms CSA share and find this to be a perfect choice for cooking (see above photo of chopped Romaine). It’s thick, crunchy and hearty, so it stands up well when thrown in the sauté pan.

* For detailed information on rice types and cooking tips, please check here.
* For a wonderful gomasio recipe, check here.

Peace, love and cooked lettuce.

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21 Responses to “sautéed lettuce and brown rice bowl”

  1. Do you know I couldn’t eat raw lettuce before going gluten free? Salads were totally disastrous for me. But after several months of being gluten free, I reintroduced lettuce and salads and no problems. I have heard of quite a few who are gluten free and still can’t do much in the way of raw.

    Great idea, Melissa! This bowl looks lovely and tasty. I like warmer foods once the weather turns chilly. So sometimes a completely cold salad is not my first pick this time of year. I have a sauteed lettuce, peas, and honey dish I’ve been wanting to try. Need to dig it out … you’ve inspired me once again. 🙂


    • Melissa says:


      Interesting about you and the raw lettuce. Yes, lots of people with digestive disorders have trouble breaking down raw foods. Lettuce in any form has never bothered me, but I sure have trouble with a few veggies from the nightshade family (raw or cooked). Bell peppers and eggplant just about do me in. I totally agree with you about warmer food and the weather changes. That, and the fact that I’ve been getting so much Romaine lettuce in my CSA share box, prompted me to whip up that sautéed lettuce and rice bowl yesterday. Fall is definitely here!

      I like the idea of adding peas. I’ll do that next time. And, you’ve inspired me once again!

  2. So very interesting Melissa, thanks for sharing. Raw lettuce doesn’t bother me, but your dish looks absolutely delicious, I will definitely have to try it. 😀

    It still amazes me how many different ways you can prepare fruits and vegetables…I have been “boxed” in all my life, LOL!


    • Melissa says:


      That’s what’s so fun about blogging. Everyone has different (and sometimes weird and wonderful) ways of playing with their food. We learn so much from each other! I love it.


  3. This looks so good. I’m going to have to make this sans rice. Maybe I could handle quinoa. Going to give it a try. I just want to dive into that bowl.

    • Melissa says:


      I’m sure it’s hard not being able to eat the GF “default” grain (rice). You could throw some hearty lettuce in one of your veggie and shrimp (chicken, beef, pork, whatever) stir fries instead of using a grain. It’s really just a matter or thinking of lettuce in new ways. =)

  4. […] Gluten-Free Foods Vegan Foods : By: Melissa […]

  5. Melissa,
    That is so interesting. I’d no idea that is was a genetic variant that could cause the issues with raw lettuce.
    I know several fitness gals who can’t tolerate raw lettuce, and when dieting for a competition it’s rough on them not having big ass salads to help with satiety.
    Now I can tell them to come check out your recipe!

    • Melissa says:


      I actually don’t know about the genetic variances, I’m just giving my family some grief as we all have the celiac genes (my daughter Tevis has both). But, yes a lot of people can’t tolerate raw foods and cooked lettuce works better than raw.

      By the way, you looked gorgeous in your wedding pictures. Absolutely stunning. Congratulations!

  6. My youngest can’t eat raw veggies and fruits. We hoped that going gf would eventually allow her to heal and eat raw foods, but it’s been years now and she still can’t. She loves greens, though and this looks like something we would all love to eat. We did miss you in SFO.

    • Melissa says:

      Wendy, Your youngest isn’t the only one. It’s interesting how many people have the same issue with raw veggies and fruit. Hmmmm? I might have to do a blog post on that. I have so many ideas and so little time! =) As for BlogHer, hopefully next year!

  7. I really love cooked lettuce. It’s a nice mild and sweet veggie. Did you know it’s also supposed to be soporific?

    • Melissa says:

      Hi intolerantchef — glad to hear a real chef backs me up on this. 🙂 I didn’t know the soporific piece. Hmmmm? Must eat this at night and not for breakfast! Thanks for the information. Zzzzz

  8. Melissa, I could eat sauteed greens by the bucket. My kids and hubby love them that way too. What a great rice/greens recipe. I think that I will totally make this as a side dish with dinner tomorrow. I am roasting some cornish game hens tomorrow, so I think this would be a perfect accompaniment to them..tackling the salad and the side all at once. Yummo! Love this idea.

  9. Melissa says:

    Kim, We eat them “by the bucket” around here as well. I eat rice bowls (or quinoa or just plain veggie bowls) all the time. In fact, I almost always have a batch of brown rice cooked and ready in the fridge. I’m taking a weekend workshop (CEUs) right now and it’s great to pull out the cooked rice, sauté some veggies and greens, add the rice, top with some nuts, put it in a glass travel container and bring it with me. By lunchtime, it’s still fairly warm and it tastes wonderful. No need to search out a fast meal, plus I feel so much better in the afternoon (especially with the “heavy” learning stuff going on) when I eat a nice mix of protein, carbs and fat.

    Your cornish game hens sound delish. Share the recipe with us. =)

  10. Miles says:

    That looks great, I’ve finally got a week off this year so I’ll be spending it eating this kind of stuff, my absolute favourite type of food.
    Autumn is a great time for vegetables in the UK, off to the market now!
    Take care

    • Melissa says:

      Miles, It’s SO nice to hear from you. I hate to even think this around someone like you, but I’ve been so busy this summer, I’ve hardly had time to visit my favorite blogs (and yours it on my favorite list). I’m glad to hear you’re getting a little time off. Gosh, you deserve it and you need it! Yes, autumn is a wonderful time for warming foods and rice bowls are one of my go-to meals. Just mix anything into it and you have a nourishing dish. I hope you enjoy your time off. Cid and I are still “talking” about a visit to your restaurant and a party at table #5. My best to you!

  11. Alta says:

    What a lovely, simple dish. I’ve seen recipes for sauteed lettuce before, but have never tried it. Need to try this!

    • Melissa says:


      It’s definitely worth trying, especially in the midst of lettuce season! I’ve really taken to sautéed lettuce. Good stuff.

  12. Sandi says:

    I made this yummy dish for an early lunch today. I had been craving it ever since i read your post. I used ginger instead of the garlic. It’s about as quick and easy an anything, which is good for me, because, while I love to eat healthy foods, I don’t want to take the time to cook them (rather be doing yoga or reading or writing in my spare time). Thank you!

  13. Melissa says:


    Wow, so nice to “see” you here. Yes, this is the kind of stuff I eat on a regular basis. Great idea on the ginger. I made a recipe from Carol Fenster’s upcoming gluten-free vegetarian cookbook (I’m doing some recipe testing for the book) that has quinoa and ginger and the flavors are incredible. I’m sure it’s just as good with rice. I will definitely try that. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Miss you!

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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