Lettuce Varieties


Are you hankering for some romaine lettuce? Well, there are tons of alternatives here in So. Cal for you. From the CDC website here’s what they are saying about the current outbreak of e coli on romaine lettuce.

‘Based on new information, CDC is narrowing its warning to consumers. CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any romaine lettuce harvested from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. If you do not know where the romaine is from, do not eat it.’
Here’s the link for more information, CDC.

Personally, I like a mix of lettuce mostly, a little crunch, a little color and a tangy dressing. My favorite is a good old Italian dressing made with a very good red wine vinegar. I love a little cheese as well, blue, parmesan or goat goes well with a tangy Italian dressing.

Just mix a little Dijon mustard, like Maille, with your red wine vinegar, add a little minced shallot, some fresh ground Italian spices and whisk in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and you’re done.
Local lettuce varieties are usually more plentiful during the winter as most lettuce prefers to grow in the cooler weather. Here are some varieties that will offer no only color but flavor to your salad bowl.

Choose lettuce that is bright with no brown edges or spots. Try and get them not too wet, if they are wet, they have a tendency to go bad faster. Pick whole heads of lettuce rather than bagged lettuce. The more lettuce is handled from field to bag the greater chance it can pick up any bacteria. Bagged lettuce can also be washed with chlorinated water and tends to be older than a non-bagged lettuce. Are you tempted to buy the bag that says triple washed and leave it at that? That lettuce may be contaminated with more than just chlorinated water and if it’s wet at all it will likely rot within a couple of days in that bag. Buy un-bagged lettuce, wash and dry well before storing. You might notice that if you purchase your lettuce at a farmers market that it lasts longer than a store bought lettuce, it’s because your farmers market lettuce was probably picked within a couple of days. I’ve had lettuce last up to 2 weeks from my farmers markets. So here are just some of the lettuce types you should be able to pick up anywhere.

Arugula (Rocket)-spicy and peppery, the larger the leaves the more bite it will have

Batavia is a loose-leaf lettuce similar to red or green leaf lettuce with a mild flavor

Belgian Endive-these can be a tad bitter, but they will add crunch to any salad mix

Butter-a very mild lettuce with big cupped leaves, great for serving topped with a crab salad

Frisee (Curly Endive)-Sometimes called chicory, the leaves are thin and curly with a little bit of a bite, aka peppery.

Iceberg-A dense head of lettuce with lots of crunch but little flavor

Leaf Lettuce, Red or Green-Another loose leaf lettuce with mild flavor but both add a lot of color to a salad bowl, great on sandwiches as well.

Little Gem-This lettuce looks like a mini version of romaine but it’s not as crunchy, mild flavor

Oakleaf-Another beautiful bi-colored loose-leaf lettuce that has a mild taste

Radicchio-There are numerous colors of radicchio, most have a little bitterness but a great addition to any salad.

Spring Mix-Usually a variety of small lettuces, some are mild, and some mixes can be spicy.

Watercress – Although probably a little difficult to find it makes a nice addition to a mixed salad or added to a rustic piece of bread slathered with some soft cheese. It has a peppery bit, much like Arugula. Use smaller leaves for less intense flavor.

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