The Types of Lettuce And Salad Greens You Must Know
There are many different types of lettuce greens to choose from when creating your salads, and chances are you already know a fair share of them. While tasting is the best method to fully acquaint yourself with them, this guide will help you get a good head start into learning about the various types of lettuce and their flavor
Types of Lettuce
Boston lettuce and bibb lettuce are among the most popular types of lettuce known as butterleaf lettuces. They are soft, pliable and have pale green leaves with a buttery texture and flavor. They are excellent for creating cups for holding other foods and provide great presentation appeal.
Probably the most popular types of lettuce in restaurants and food chains in the world, iceberg lettuce is inexpensive and neutral in flavor. Many people prefer iceberg due to these qualities and mix well with almost anything.
It is almost nutritionally devoid when compared to other types of salad and eating iceberg promotes the use of more dressing due to the lack of flavor present. Many people enjoy iceberg lettuce for its texture and moisture.
Green Leaf & Red Leaf Lettuce
These types of lettuce grow in bunches and is a great choice for salad bases. It comes in both red and green variety and is easily damageable. Loved for its mild flavor and awesome deep color, leaf lettuce is a staple in gourmet salads.
Strongly flavored, romaine is probably the more well-known types of salad for its use in the classic Caesar salad. It has semi-firm and crisp leaves that are packed in a loose head. Romaine is also known as “cos”. Due to its strong flavor, romaine is well suited and can stand up to strong dressings such as garlic and Parmesan cheese. Look for a head with crisp, dark green leaves free of blemishes or yellowing.
These types of salad lettuces are harvested before they reach maturity and give a delicate, mild flavor compared to their mature counterparts. They are often used for composed salads. Some varieties of baby lettuce include Lola Rosa, Brune d’hiver, Baby Red Bibb, Micro Greens, Red Sails, Pirate.
Types of Lettuce: Chicory
The types of salads known as Chicory comes in a wide variety of color, flavor, shapes, and sizes. Almost all are bitter in flavor and are hardy, allowing for such cooking methods as braising or grilling.
Small and grown in tight heads, the Belgian Endive type of salads are the shoot of chicory root. The small sturdy leaves are great for using as cups/bases for presentation and can be filled with many different foods. They are usually grilled or braised and served with poultry or meats.
Sometimes referred to as its categorical name, Chicory, or it’s French name, frisee, the curly endive has a bitter flavor the darker the leaves are. The strong flavor goes well with strong cheeses, game, and citrus. Often used in a mixture with other less strong greens.
This chicory is often called broadleaf endive and has a slightly bitter flavor with thick leaves. These types of salad is a very sturdy green and are often mixed with other greens for texture. The strong flavor of escarole stands up to full-flavored dressings and is a good compliment to meats and poultry.
Small head and tightly packed, the red-leafed radicchio has a very strong bitter flavor and is usually grilled or braised and served as a side dish. Its attractive color makes it popular in cold salads. Due to its strong flavor, it should be used sparingly. It is quite expensive.
Other Types of Lettuce & Greens
There are many other types of salad greens out there that you can incorporate into your salads. Many of these greens can’t be categorized into the above but are unique enough to warrant mention.
Also known as rocket, this type of salad is spicy green and has a strong peppery flavor that is actually a member of the cabbage family. Use of this green is rarely done alone due to its strong flavor, and it should be used in conjunction with other greens.
You will be familiar with this type of salads green as being known as the most prolific weed in the world. Its leaves are harvested while young and are slightly bitter. Older leaves can be cooked and served as a vegetable side.
Sometimes referred to as sourgrass, this salad green has leaves that look similar to spinach in color and shape. Sorrel has a very tart, lemony flavor that goes exceptionally well with fish and shellfish and should be used sparingly and combined with other less strong greens in a salad.
Spinach can be cooked or used in a salad and is similar to sorrel. A popular method of preparing this green is using a dressing of hot bacon fat and pouring it over the spinach which will wilt it slightly. It has a rich, tender texture. Good quality spinach should be deep green and fairly crisp. Avoid wilted or yellowed bunches.
You can identify this type of salad by its tiny penny-sized leaves and substantial stem. It has a peppery flavor that gives a good kick to salads. Buy dark green watercress with no yellowing. Watercress must be kept very cold and moist and is usually packed with ice. Individual leaves are plucked and washed before serving.
While sprouts aren’t salad greens, they are often used in salads, sandwiches and as a garnish. Sprouts are very young alfalfa, daikon, sunflower, radish or mustard plants.
There are many edible flowers that you can use as garnish. They offer beautiful color and presentation. Flowers you can use are nasturtiums, calendulas, and pansies. Caution must be used when selecting flowers to be used. Many blossoms are toxic and some flowers have pesticides that can be harmful if ingested. Use only specially-grown flowers grown to be eaten from reputable sellers.