April 11, 2013 by Living Girl Living Foods
In a previous post where I shared a Raspberry Lime Dressing over Arugula, Celery & Bartlett Pear I discussed how playful, bright, tasty, appetizing, satiating and beautiful eating a salad can be.
Below is a photograph of this colorful spring inspired salad.
It all comes down to having an amazing dressing, sweetness, crunch and lettuce/greens appeal 😉 A salad has layers and accessories.
The main ingredient in a tradition greens salad is a dark leafy green like a bitter or the most common, lettuce.
We have gone over romaine lettuce before, probably because it is my personal favorite and it happens to be the most nutritionally packed lettuce. So I will only briefly go over romaine this time around!
Iceberg, the most hype without actually deserving it. Iceberg lettuce has light green, broad leaves with a mild, watery flavor and crunchy texture. As far as I know, iceberg was the least nutritionally dense lettuce out of all lettuces! It does have an okay amount of fiber, vitamins A, C and K and folate. But compared to other variarties of lettuce the nutritional density of iceberg is far behind. Iceberg lettuce is commonly found in already shredded bags, cheap salads at restaurants and probably the lettuce used on most fast food burgers. Iceberg also has no taste, it just tastes like water, unlike other types of lettuce. Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate it but I think we all need to realize it doesn’t deserve all the hype.
Red Leaf Lettuce also called Red-Tip Leaf Lettuce, has large crumpled leaves with medium to dark red coloration (almost purple). It is a good source of vitamins A,C, K and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron and potassium. One cup of shredded red-tip leaf lettuce (36g) provides 24% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and has 39.3 micrograms of vitamin K. I personally find this lettuce to give salads an extra pop in both color, texture, and taste. When juiced it has a much more earthy taste. I use it for my Chocolate Milk Juice.
Compared to red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce has a slightly stronger nutrient profile. This medium (think kermit the frog green) to dark green (spinach like color) colored variety is also a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron and potassium. However, one cup of shredded green leaf lettuce (36g) has 53% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and 45.5 micrograms of vitamin K. Compared to red leaf l, it has 38% more thiamin, 32% more riboflavin and 14% more vitamin B6 per cup. It also provides 11% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Green leaf lettuce usually has broad, curly tips, very mild in flavor compared to red leaf lettuce and has a wonderful crisp taste.
There are two main types of Butterhead lettuce: Boston (commonly referred to as Butter) and Bibb. They have small, round, loosely formed heads with soft, buttery-textured leaves ranging from pale green on the outer leaves to pale yellow-green on the inner leaves. Bibb is the more expensive of the two and is usually sold in a plastic container to protect the delicate leaves. Butterhead is a great source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B6, folate, iron, and potassium. One cup of shredded or chopped butterhead (55g) provides 56.3 micrograms of vitamin K and provides 4% of your daily recommended intake of iron, both values higher than many of the other lettuce varieties. Butterhead lettuce is slightly sweet, crispy and makes a great wrap, shell or scooper 😀
Horns please!!! Romaine! Romaine has dark green long leaves that have a deep taste and crisp texture. It is highly rich in vitamins A, C and K and folate and avery good source of fiber and four minerals including potassium and iron. Of your daily recommended values, one cup of shredded romaine lettuce (47g) provides 4% fiber, 82% vitamin A and 19% vitamin C. By the cup, it provides 36% more thiamin and more than 4.5 times the amount of folate than green leaf lettuce. Romaine is stiffer than most lettuces, it makes a great wrapper, shell or scooper.
It has a thick center rib that gives this lettuce such a pleasing crunch but the rib also gives the lettuce a slight bitter taste. Unlike most lettuces, it is tolerant of heat. So if you want to add something cooked to a salad without the lettuce looking like it is taking a mega beating this might be an ideal choice.
Radicchio, that beautiful wine-red lettuce with white veins that has been springing up more in salads in America. It is actually one of the varieties of leaf chicory that has been used for centuries in salads in Italy. It has a bitter and spicy taste with this unique flavor and it’s appearance aids in explaining the health benefits. Some of the nutrients these leaves are rich in are; lactucopicrin (intybin) this gives radicchio it’s color and bitter element, zea-xanthin, vitamin K, B6 B1 B3 vitamins, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, and potassium. I’m not trying to push counting calories, but 100 grams of raw radicchio has just 23 calories! This can add that color or bitterness that is “missing” from your salad. I personally add just a little radicchio at a time because I have not had much luck finding it at an affordable price. It makes a great topping 😀
I have gone over spinach, kale and arugula in great detail over time on my site. These are great elements to add to your salads but are not part of the lettuce family. Radicchio is technically a chicory but I feel like it gets thrown into the lettuce family 😉
All of these lettuces taste wonderful with fruits, herbs, vegetables, seeds and nuts.
Seeds and nuts are wonderful for dressings or as a topper.
Fruit also makes wonderful dressings, can be the base of your salad or add texture and sweetness.
Herbs are extremely versatile! Dressing, topper, main base or just little bits like an accessory .
Veggies are the same 🙂
Play with textures, cutting styles, think about how bitter, sweet, savory or salty you want your salad to be. Will you have a dressing or not? Are there any colors you are already picturing? Who will be eating this, can they handle bitter, spicy, fats, oils etc?
Try something new! Have you ever eaten raw..
Radishes, frisee, chives, tarragon, mint, mushrooms, chard, peppers, hot peppers, kale, collard greens, cabbage, carrots, beets, fruits, chicory, escarole, jicama, tomatoes, corn, sauerkraut or other fermented treats, olives, sunflower seeds, pickles I could keep going!
Thank you all so much for taking the time out of your day to stop by my website. I hope this lettuce guide gives a little sass to your salads! Salads do not have to be boring, I’ve said it before and I will say it again it’s like putting an outfit together. Somethings go together better than others. Too much accessories kills it, and layers can me amazingly fun, simplicity can be surprisingly yummy but difficult to pull off. Have fun! PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD…and tell your mom I told you to hehehe. Much love ❤ and raw power 😉