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Little Gem Salad with Bread Crumb Croutons

A little gem salad with bread crumb croutons and sliced radishes on a white plate with a bowl of dressing nearby.
This Little Gem salad with bread crumb croutons is an elegant starter or side made made from Little Gem (or baby romaine lettuce), a creamy buttermilk dressing, buttery bread crumbs, and sliced radishes.
Rosie Daykin

Prep 20 mins
Total 20 mins
6 servings
221 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus a little more for seasoning
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk preferably full-fat
  • 1/2 cup crème fraiche
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
  • 6 heads Little Gem* lettuce baby romaine, or romaine hearts, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced radishes preferably French breakfast


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the panko bread crumbs and stir to coat. Continue to stir until the bread crumbs begin to turn golden brown, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Empty pan onto a plate and lightly sprinkle with salt. Let cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup buttermilk, crème fraîche, lemon zest, chives, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. If desired, stir in additional buttermilk until the desired consistency is reached. (You can make the dressing in advance and stash it in the refrigerator for up to a day or so)
  • On a large platter, arrange the Little Gem or romaine lettuce halves cut side up and slightly overlapping.
  • Spoon the buttermilk dressing over the lettuce, sprinkle with the buttery bread crumbs, and top with sliced radishes. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on the radishes and serve immediately.


*What is Little Gem lettuce?

Small, compact lettuce that looks like romaine (after you've removed all those outer layers), Little Gem is a salad lover's dream come true. It's tender yet has enough sturdiness to stand up to some time on the grill if you're so inclined. Like romaine, it has crinkly leaves that love to hold on to dressing, allowing it to be filled with flavor. This also means that hearts of romaine make a perfect substitute.