Forms of Lettuce: A Visible Information to Salad Greens

Salad every single day of the week? Don’t make that face. It doesn’t need to sound so same-old, same-old, while you’ve received so many varieties of lettuce to select from.

Botanically talking, lettuce falls into 5 classes: crisphead; butterhead; loose-leaf, or leaf; and romaine, or cos. (There’s additionally celtuce, or asparagus lettuce, which is cultivated for its edible stem.)

Here’s how the different sorts break down into the varieties of salad greens you’ll sometimes discover on the grocery retailer, farmers market, or farm stand, together with some serving recommendations.

Green leaf and pink leaf lettuces are the 2 essential contenders within the loose-leaf lettuce class. You know them from their massive, frilly leaves and crisp-tender texture. These are the quintessential salad lettuces that pair effectively with nearly any form of produce or salad dressing.

Oak leaf lettuce has a particular form that — you guessed it — resembles the leaf from an oak tree. This loose-leaf lettuce might be both inexperienced or pink, has a considerably delicate texture, and performs effectively with different tender lettuces from the butterhead household or child greens. Try it tossed with a easy balsamic French dressing and cherry tomatoes.

Mesclun, additionally generally known as spring greens, is a mixture of child leaf lettuces and different greens. It originated in southern France as a mix of untamed greens, and was popularized in America, because of Alice Waters and different cooks selling seasonal greenmarket cooking. Try Waters’ spring lettuce salad in homage.

Butterhead lettuce is aptly named, because the leaves of the bulbous lettuce heads might be very tender and candy — nearly buttery in texture. Two varieties are probably the most well-known: Boston is a barely bigger and floppier-leafed selection, whereas Bibb is the smaller and extra compact of the 2. These are the entire lettuce heads usually grown hydroponically and offered in particular person clamshells. Use them for lettuce wraps or in easy salads with citrus.

Iceberg lettuce is probably the most well-known number of crisphead lettuce. Whether you crave it as the bottom of a wedge salad, wrapped round a burger rather than a bun, or shredded in a hoagie or sub sandwich, it’s a cool and crisp distinction to wealthy flavors.

Romaine is simple to establish with its trademark cylindrical form, crisp leaves, and durable ribs. It’s the kind of lettuce historically utilized in Caesar salad, however can stand as much as any thick and creamy dressing, like ranch or inexperienced goddess. Romaine is a incredible choice for chopped salads too. 

Little Gem is a smaller model of Romaine and as such, has a sweeter style and barely extra tender texture — form of just like the love baby of Romaine and Bibb lettuce. It’s as versatile as you’d anticipate and may deal with a strongly flavored French dressing. Try it with Christine Gallary’s garlicky home dressing.

Technically, the greens under aren’t botanically lettuces. But you’ll discover them within the salad part, so why not add them to your bowl as effectively?

Arugula might resemble miniature inexperienced oak leaves, however the taste is stronger — generally peppery — and the feel might be crunchier than leaf lettuce. It’s nice in all types of salads — however its taste actually shines on this easy arugula salad. Another tasty thought for arugula: Make a salad pizza by topping flatbreads with arugula tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, and a few shaved Parmesan.

Radicchio is the largest member of the chicory household, characterised by a barely bitter taste and colourful, crunchy leaves. The spherical or rectangular heads of radicchio might be julienned or shredded for a crisp uncooked salad, or sliced in half to make roasted or grilled radicchio.

Endive is a relative of radicchio that’s barely smaller with rectangular, pointed leaves. Because every pale-green leaf is its personal scoopable “boat,” it’s the inexperienced that you simply’ll usually discover on an hors d’oeuvre tray crammed with all the things from blue cheese and walnuts to smoked salmon salad. Of course you may as well make salad with endive — attempt it on this chicory salad together with radicchio.

Frisée is the curly, “frizzy” number of chicory with a sweeter taste and extra tender texture than the sturdy leaves of radicchio and endive. It’s the standard base for the French salade Lyonnaise with bacon and a poached egg.

Mâche is a young, small-leafed inexperienced that goes by a complete bunch of different names: corn salad, lamb’s lettuce, or nut lettuce. It grows wild and might be foraged. Try it tossed with different tender leaf lettuces with a lightweight French dressing.

Watercress is one other wild-growing inexperienced much like mâche in dimension and form. It has a extra pronounced peppery taste much like arugula, and can be utilized interchangeably. Try it in a salad with apples and almonds. To be taught extra about mâche and watercress, see our information to spring greens.

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