Lettuce. This simple, but wonderful and healthy green. With a multitude of varieties, there is never a reason to get bored. How many varieties are there, you ask? And what is the difference between them all, really? Well, let us tell you about this lovely, leafy green.
Types of lettuces can be generally placed in one of four categories.
Crisphead lettuce grows in a tightly packed ball of leaves, like the familiar iceberg lettuce - a favourite for its mild flavour and satisfying crunch!
Iceberg lettuce provides a satisfying and light-tasting crunch in sandwiches and burgers, a classic chef's salad like we featured last month, or shreds up easily for tacos and other salads.
Butterhead lettuce is also round, but the leaves are looser and smoother. It has a mild flavour and beautiful, silky soft, "buttery" leaves. This lettuce provides very little flavour competition for dressing - so choose a Mild EVOO and any White Balsamic Vinegar you desire to honour its delicate texture and taste.
Looseleaf includes varietals like spinach or arugula that grow in a loosely formed circle. It is difficult to harvest an entire "head", so it is more commonly cut or trimmed to let its leaves fall individually. Commonly found in mixed greens or spring mix, these delicate leaves wilt quickly when moist, so make sure to serve quickly after they are dressed.
Romaine is the fourth type due to its distinctive long leaves attached to a thicker and crunchier "rib". The leaves, while looser than crisphead, can be harvested easily by taking the entire head. Frequently associated with the popular "caesar" salad, romaine is not too bitter and versatile for use in almost any salad. Depending on the varietal and other growth factors, leaves can be quite dark and bitter, or quite light and mild.
Every type of lettuce or greens has its own slightly different taste and texture, some more bitter than others, and bitterness is a hallmark of any lettuce with darker green leaves.
A favourite dressing can elevate any lettuce, but when you achieve a balance of sweet, sour, salt and spice, it really does make lettuce a gourmet dish you begin to crave. What? Did we forget something? Oh, right - the EVOO. ;) Once you experience a fresh lettuce dressed with a combo that includes high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil - that healthy, rich fat with a slight peppery burn - people often cannot imagine the good-for-you greens with anything else! It turns regular ol' salad into a crave-worthy culinary delight. Yes, delight!
With literally hundreds of combinations we can keep you going all summer long and still never have the same dressing twice! How exciting is that?