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Michael Smith’s lettuce sandwiches

Michael Smith’s lettuce sandwiches will sound like a strange notion to most Americans, something so plain it cannot command much interest. The key here, however, goes unstated in the name. Like so many of Smith’s sandwiches, and like traditional English sandwiches more generally, the application of compound butter, in this case made with bright mint and lemon, brings an otherwise dreary ingredient alive. Smith uses brown (whole wheat) bread but any kind would work.



  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • packed ¼ cup stemmed mint leaves
  • generous ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • brown bread
  • shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce



  1. Make the compound butter by blasting everything but the bread and lettuce to a paste.
  2. Spread the bread with some butter and make sandwiches with the lettuce.
  3. “Crust and cut as desired.”


-You will need to soften your butter at room temperature of course to avoid mangling the bread.

-Why use unsalted but then add salt? The quality of unsalted butter is better.

-Iceberg lettuce is widely considered infra dig by the food police, but it has valuable uses and its robust texture is most welcome here.

-The original instructions appear in The Afternoon Tea Book by Michael Smith (New York 1986) at pages 106 (‘lettuce sandwiches’) and 226 (‘mint butter’)