Know Your Produce? Lettuce Varieties

Spring is here and so are rows and rows of beautiful spring greens. Lettuce and spring greens come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. We offer nearly twenty varieties throughout the year and several options every week. While the more commotypes-of-lettucen Green Leaf still remains the best seller other lesser known varieties are closing the gap with Green Butter Lettuce especially making headway in the past year. If you enjoy our Variety Boxes you will notice that there is some
kind of green every week with many great options to customize to your preferences. If you enjoy the Gourmet Variety watch for some of the lesser known Varieties to show up in your box this season. Keep reading for great information on some of our favorites below.

Know Your Produce? Types of Lettuce

  • Looseleaf Lettuce also called; Leaf lettuce, Green Leaf Lettuce, Red Leaf Lettuce, Bunch Lettuce
    Characteristics: They have a mild flavor and are very pliable, despite the crunchy stem. Their uneven ruffled surfaces add layers of texture to salads. Because the leaves are so large, it’s best to tear them up into bite-size pieces.
  • Butterhead Lettuce also called Butter lettuce, Red Butter Lettuce, Living Lettuce, Green Butter Lettuce
    Characteristics: A type of head lettuce, the leaves of Boston and bibb lettuces are soft. And as this variety’s name implies, the texture of a butter lettuce is indeed smooth like butter. Bibb is the more expensive of the two and is usually sold in a plastic container to protect the delicate leaves.
  • Romaine also called Cos Lettuce or with outter leaves removed sold as Hearts of Romaine
    Characteristics: This large leafy lettuce is stiffer than most; a thick center rib gives it a real crunch. The rib also gives this lettuce a slight bitter taste. This is the lettuce originally used when the Caesar salad was created.
  • Frisée also called; Curly endive, chicory, chicory endive, curly chicory
    Characteristics: These curled leaves tinged with yellow and green are slightly bitter in taste, have a crunchy stem, and add a lot of texture. Their pale green, white, and yellow coloring is a result of the producer shielding them from light during the growing process. Frisée is closely related to escarole.
  • Arugula also called; Rocket, Italian cress, Mediterranean rocket, rugola, rugula, roquette, rucola
    Characteristics: Possibly the most well-known variety of salad green, arugula forms the basis of many a salad. Originating from the Mediterranean, this green tastes more peppery than bitter and is especially associated with Italian dishes like pesto. The edges of baby arugula aren’t as defined.
  • Endive also called; Belgian endive, French endive, witloof, witloof chicory, Belgium chicory
    Characteristics: The unique oval shape, soft satiny texture, and slight bitterness all mean endive’s a great addition to any salad. It’s scooplike shape makes for edible servers, perfect for small appetizers like these “spoons.”
  • Radicchio also called Chioggia, Red Chicory, Red Leaf Chicory, Red Italian chicory
    Characteristics: Pronounced “rah-dick-ee-yo,” you can find this deep-red-purple vegetable sold either as a compact round head, as pictured above, or shaped like its relative, endive. The bright coloring makes it stand out. When cooked, the red-purple hue turns brown and what was once bitter becomes sweet.
  • Mizuna also called Japanese greens, spider mustard, xue cai, kyona, potherb mustard, and California Peppergrass
    Characteristics: This Japanese mustard green is typically sold as part of a premade salad mix but can be purchased loose at the farmers’ market or specialty shop. Mizuna has a relatively strong pungent flavor when compared to other salad greens, but its flavor won’t overpower a dish. The small jagged edges that make mizuna look like miniature oak leaves add a lot of texture.
  • Escarole also called Batavian Endive, Scarole, Broad-leaved Endive
    Characteristics: Related to frisée, this mildly bitter leafy green is large and crisp. Escarole is often used in soups and paired with beans, reflecting its popularity in Italian cuisine.
  • Baby Beet Greens
    Characteristics: When the leaves of the beet top are immature, they are tender and slightly spicy. The purplish-red veins are visually striking and can dress up any salad. When wilted, the veins become brighter in color and a little bit sweeter.
  • Cress also called Watercress
    Characteristics: Pictured is watercress, the most popular type of cress sold in the United States. Other varieties include upland cress, curly cress, and land cress. A peppery taste is characteristic of all varieties. Sold in bunches, watercress has a tough, fibrous stem and small green leaves. Be sure to wash cresses thoroughly, since they often grow in sandy ground.
  • Tatsoi also called Tat Soi, Spoon Cabbage, Rosette Bok Choy
    Characteristics: The small, rounded leaves of this Asian salad green have a mild, mustardlike flavor. The texture is similar to that of baby spinach, and one can be swapped for the other. Baby tatsoi is usually sold loose, but when mature, tatsoi can be purchased whole, in the shape of a rosette, and it is often cooked intact in Chinese stir-fries. Like mizuna, tatsoi is often available only at the farmers’ market or specialty gourmet shops.
  • Mâche also called: Field salad, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field lettuce, fetticus
    Characteristics: Sometimes sold with its soil still attached, this salad green imparts a mild and slightly sweet flavor to a salad. Because of the small size of the leaves, trying to create a salad with a base of mâhe can be expensive. Its leaves are also very delicate and will bruise easily, so handle with care.
  • Oakleaf also called Red Oakleaf, Green Oakleaf
    Characteristics: The shape of this looseleaf lettuce’s leaves are similar to that of the oak tree, thus, its name. From a distance, one could mistake it for red leaf and green leaf lettuce, but a closer look will reveal differences in shape and texture: Oakleafs are a little shorter and more squat, and the tops of their leaves have a softer texture than their red leaf and green leaf counterparts. This delicate, tender lettuce acts a great bed for food and won’t compete with other flavors.
  • Other greens often substituted for lettuce are Green Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Napa Cabbage, Bok Choy, Baby Bok Choy, Spinach bunches, Baby Spinach, Red, Green or Rainbow Chard and Kale (many varieties).
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About Rachel

Owner @ Brown Box Organics.
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