Carrot cake and zucchini bread are just two examples of sweets that include vegetables in a surprising way. Namely, it’s that they are relatively undetectable from a taste point of view, despite the fact that the recipes often include quite a large amount of the veggies. Carrots and zucchini have become such common inclusions, that we’re not usually surprised to see them in recipes. Other vegetables make us sit up and take notice a little bit more when they appear in unexpected places. These cake bars, for instance, have lettuce in them.
That’s right, iceberg lettuce.
Lettuce is relatively bland and shreds up nicely, just as carrots and zucchini do. I saw a recipe for some spice bars that featured – or at least included – lettuce in an older cookbook from my collection, Cuisinart Food Processor Cooking (great book from 1981 – came with an old Cuisinart). I didn’t use the food processor for any part of this recipe, but couldn’t resist trying it out.
The cake bars are pretty good, and you wouldn’t know that they have lettuce in them unless someone directly told you or you didn’t get a great “shred” and a few big pieces slipped into the batter. They’re moist and soft, with a good balance of chewiness and tenderness. Iceberg lettuce is definitely the best choice for these, as it is light, crispy and breaks down easily. I wouldn’t really recommend using a different type of lettuce for this, as it might seem like you’re incorporating a plant into a cake if you get tough leaves or a stronger flavor in there. These bars are flavored with cardamom and topped with lemon cream cheese icing – both of which are flavors that really go well together and with some of the faint notes from the lettuce. The bars also have raisins and chopped walnuts to add a little more texture.
These bars are quite thin and only need a thin layer of icing to match them. They make a great snack cake and keep well when stored in an airtight container.
Spiced Lettuce Cake Bars
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 head (approx 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups) iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and ginger. Stir in sugar.
In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until almost combined. Add in lettuce, raisins and chopped walnuts and mix until all ingredients are well distributed and no streaks of flour remain.
Spread into an even layer in prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan completely before frosting.
Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract or zest
approx 1 1/2-2 cups confectioners sugar
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat at medium-high speed until frosting is smooth. Add a little extra confectioners’ sugar if mixture is too thin to spread easily on the soft cake. Add a little more confectioners sugar if the mixture is runny.
CiaochowlindaMay 18, 2009
Intriguing recipe. It’s the only use I’d ever have for iceberg lettuce I think.
BrenDivaMay 18, 2009
I work for a program that helps family’s introduce more veggies and fruit into the famlies daily diet and I can’t wait to introduce this recipe to my clients!
StephanieMay 18, 2009
Wow, that’s so intriguing how can you not give it a try! Wow!
HannahMay 18, 2009
Oh. That is so weird that there is lettuce in a dessert!
my turkish kitchenMay 18, 2009
I am really surprised to hear that those bar has lettuce in it. Wow…
bluejeangourmetMay 18, 2009
fascinating–like sauerkraut in chocolate cupcakes!
LindaMay 18, 2009
A very interesting recipe. I am not an iceberg lettuce fan but this would get it into my grandson’s diet!!
ElyseMay 18, 2009
What an intriguing recipe. Why not lettuce? You’re right: zucchini and carrots, no one blinks an eye at. Lettuce…it’s somewhat unheard of…but genius! I can’t wait to try these bars.
Morta Di FameMay 19, 2009
Wow, these are so interesting. Never hear of them. Will try!
KrissyMay 19, 2009
whoa! talk about unique.
these look really cool. i’ll have to try them sometime and see if anyone notices. 😉
AshleyMay 19, 2009
Wow these are one of the most intriguing bars I’ve seen!
HillaryMay 19, 2009
I’ll take your word for these bars since I’ve liked your other recipes…but I’m definitely a little skeptical of adding lettuce to my dessert.
StefMay 19, 2009
How interesting! I never thought about baking with lettuce before!
AvanikaMay 19, 2009
When I saw the title of this post, I was wondering if you had made a typo or something. Maybe you’ve started another trend, after zucchini! Great job. I must try this, once I get rid of all the apprehensions! Kudos to you being so adventureous.
howtoeatacupcakeMay 20, 2009
I’ve often wondered why carrots and zucchini are the only vegetables I see featured in desserts. This is a neat recipe. I wonder what you could do with tomatoes!
JasmineMay 20, 2009
could you use romaine lettuce?
RandyMay 24, 2009
Sounds spectacular – i think this may turn into a dessert as part of a full Iceberg Lettuce meal.
Tonya @ What's On My PlateMay 24, 2009
Interesting… I wonder what the purpose of including the lettuce is? With carrot and zucchini cakes the actual shreds are distinguishable in the batter but if the lettuce isn’t I wonder about adding them. I’m totally intrigued!
7-letter deborahMay 29, 2009
I made these last night and I have to say they’re really good. I used Black Seeded Simpson lettuce cut in a really fine shred. You can see the green flecks in the cake bars, but they balance nicely with the spices and the icing flavor is definitely strong enough to make the cake not too vegetably. I’d definitely make again next year when I’m innundated with lettuce.
chinese food recipesAugust 26, 2009
wonderful recipes, i made few last weekend and it taste so perfect, love it!
LindaSeptember 22, 2010
sounds quite interesting – has anyone tried them ?
FloJuly 2, 2012
I made these yesterday with plain iceberg lettuce. My boyfriend told me to not be insulted if he didn’t like the cake (based on the name); he proceeded to eat three pieces of it. I used raisins and walnuts; I think I went WAY heavy with the lemon zest in the icing but it’s darned good. Thank you so much for this recipe; I will never again throw out lettuce due to unuse.