dcsimg

Luscious Lettuce

In the Pantry

Trees are blooming, birds are chirping, and the first flavors of spring, those magical green leaves of lettuce, are starting to appear in farmers' markets. After months of eating hearty winter fare, there's nothing more refreshing than a leafy salad. Interested in improving your use of this delectable veggie? Both amateur and professional chefs can take advantage of the spring lettuce crop to inspire pre-summer meals. Read on for some basic information to help get you cooking with lettuce, even after the apple blossoms wilt.

Culinary Arts

Lettuce: Know Your Varieties

If you're interested in food, you probably know there's more to lettuce than the often flavorless pale green iceberg leaves that were once the mainstay of American salads. There are actually four varieties of lettuce:

  • Looseleaf Lettuce comes in various shapes and sizes, ranging in color from pale green to deep red, and is most commonly sold as part of salad mix.
  • Butterhead Lettuce, also known as Bibb or Boston, has pale green, tender leaves in a loosely formed head.
  • Romaine or Cos Lettuce may have originated on the island of Cos in the Mediterranean and has long, crisp leaves that are deep green in color.
  • Crisphead Lettuce includes iceberg varieties as well as Batavian and French Crisp. Its leaves are formed in a tight head and are green on the outside and pale green or white inside.

Selecting and Storing Lettuce

Get the most out of your lettuce by choosing leaves and heads that are crisp and free of any yellowing. Avoid wilted leaves as well as slimy ones. Check the bases of head lettuce for browning ends.

Wash and dry Romaine and leaf lettuces before storing to maximize their shelf life. Butterhead varieties do not need to be washed before storing. Use a plastic bag or wrap lettuce in damp paper towels and store in the crisper, away from ethylene-producing fruits such as apples, bananas, and pears, which can cause lettuces to brown prematurely.

Cooking with Lettuce

A salad of fresh, crisp spring lettuce needs little more than some high quality olive oil and a grind of salt and pepper to please the palate. However, chefs can use lettuce as the basis for more complex salads, and, surprisingly, in other dishes as well. If you're looking for some adventurous lettuce recipes, try one of these ideas:

  • Lettuce and Potato Soup uses the tough, outer leaves and ribs of lettuce that are normally discarded when making a salad to add a subtle flavor and unique color to this tasty soup.
  • Braised Lettuce is an uncommonly delicious way to enjoy head lettuce--ideal for those damp spring evenings when it feels too cold to eat fresh greens.
  • Lettuce Wraps are an interesting and healthy alternative to bread, tortillas, or pita pockets and offer a gluten-free way to enjoy your favorite sandwich fillings. Choose large, flexible leaves for best results.
  • Stir-fried Lettuce is a common dish in Chinese cuisine. Iceberg lends itself well to this preparation, which is flavored with sesame oil, tamari, rice wine, and garlic.

Whether you opt for an unusual recipe or choose to serve the simplest salad, garden-fresh lettuce may be just the thing to satisfy your spring cravings.

Sources:

Lettuce Varieties for Home Growing

WHFoods: Romaine Lettuce

About the Author:

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • A contemporary, career-focused institution of higher education dedicated to excellence since 1902.
            • Has academic advising that provides students someone to answer questions and provide guidance.
            • Offers scholarships for qualifying military members, adult learners, as well as program-specific scholarships.
            • Provides tutoring services to help students master any assignments that give them trouble.
            • Gives students the option to study online, at one of the 12 campuses in Indiana or Ohio, or a combination of both.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Recognized on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year from 2010-2014
            • Day and evening classes are available for flexible scheduling.
            • Offers bachelor’s, associate, and diploma programs in business, culinary arts, criminal justice, cosmetology, and more.
            • Takes a unique “Focused Learning” approach, where students typically take only one class per month to concentrate on one subject with one faculty member at a time.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid