Summer means salads, and salads mean lettuce. Let’s take a closer look at this ever-popular ingredient.
- and most other savoury foods…the salad possibilities are endless!
Varieties of lettuce:
Butterhead is the classic lettuce seen in kitchen gardens. It is round, with soft, loose green leaves, and does not have strong flavour.
Oakleaf has curly, frilly leaves and can be red or green It has a delicate flavour, but tends to wilt very quickly after cutting.
Lollo Rosso leaves are frilled with a dark red edge, lending an interesting look to salads. This lettuce has a distinctive flavour similar to that of chicory or endive.
Cos or Romaine is a tall lettuce with thick, crunchy leaves. The name cos is derived from the Greek island where it was found by the Romans, while its other name, romaine, is used by the French. It is best known for its inclusion in the Caesar salad.
Iceberg is a crisp lettuce with a dense head of pale green leaves. It has a mild flavour, crunchy texture and lasts a long time in the fridge. However, iceberg has little to no nutritional value, so don’t rely on it as one of your five-a-day!
Little Gem lettuce looks like a cross between a baby cos and a tight, small butterhead. They have dense hearts and a distinctive flavour, and their firm texture means they cope well with being cooked.
In the bag?
In general, it’s usually better to go for a whole head of lettuce and wash it yourself, as the bagged varieties are wasteful to produce and are often sprayed with chemicals to make them last longer, meaning the leaves could be less fresh than you think. That said, we’re all guilty of grabbing them for a quick lunch on the go!