Food and Produce Guides

Lettuce: A New Spin

Lettuce varieties

At farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture farms, lettuces make their appearance in May and go strong through mid-summer. When I belonged to a CSA farm, each week, we could take as many as three healthy heads of lettuce for our share. No matter how much one loves salads, three heads a week is a lot of lettuce! If you shop at farm markets, they, too will be bursting with lettuces.

With all the varieties available there is no reason, other than laziness or habit, to choose iceberg lettuce—America’s favorite, and least nutritious lettuce. The darker green the lettuce, as you probably already know, the more nutritious it is. Lettuces in this variety include romaine, oak leaf, and the curly red and green leaf lettuces.

boston lettuceIf you like a mild lettuce, crisphead, butterhead, Bibb, and Boston lettuces are of the more tender variety. But remember that they are just somewhat more nutritious than iceberg. Looking over a chart comparing the nutrients of iceberg versus romaine lettuce, for instance, I see that romaine contains anywhere from two to eight times nearly all the major nutrients.

So try a few different varieties this month, and use them generously. Big, bountiful salads can be a mainstay in summer, of course. But if you find yourself with an oversupply of lettuce, or just can’t get enough of it, here are a few interesting ways to use it in other types of dishes.

Romaine lettuceHere are a few recipes on VegKitchen that will help you enjoy a bumper crop of lettuce:

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