10 Types of Lettuce (And Other Leafy Salad Greens) You Should Know
When you think of "lettuce," your mind probably goes to iceberg or romaine. While those varieties are certainly delicious and versatile, there's so much more going on in the wonderful world of lettuce. Here are 10 common types of lettuce and other leafy salad greens (plus, what to do with each one):
You're probably familiar with iceberg, one of the most common varieties of lettuce. Refreshing and watery, fresh iceberg is often found in wedge salads. You'll also find it shredded and stuffed into tacos or sandwiches. Iceberg lettuce grows in medium-sized heads and its tightly packed leaves range in color from pale to medium green.
Here's another common type of lettuce. Romaine leaves are large, sturdy, crisp, and can have a slightly bitter flavor. Thanks to a thick center rib, fresh romaine leaves deliver a satisfying crunch with every bite. This hearty lettuce variety can stand up to heat, so it's a great option for grilling. It's also associated with Caesar salads.
Arugula, a leafy green that originated in the Meditteranean, is known for its tender texture and earthy flavor. A slight peppery kick means it pairs well with lemony dressings or as a basil stand-in in pesto sauces. While it's most commonly used as a salad green, it's also frequently found in sandwiches or on top of pizza.
Try it: Fig and Arugula Salad
Leaf lettuce comes in three varieties: red, green, and oak. They grow on a single stem instead of a head, which means it has a shorter shelf life than other types of lettuce (it's also more prone to wilting, so stick to light dressings). Its mild flavor and texture makes it perfect for salad green mixes.
Try it: Simple Read Leaf Salad
One of the two common types of butterhead lettuce, Boston lettuce has large leaves that are soft and mild in flavor. The dense leaves are slightly cupped, which makes them perfect for lettuce wraps.
Try it: Asian-Inspired Lettuce Wraps
Bibb, the other common butterhead variety, is slightly smaller and sweeter than Boston lettuce. It's larger than most types of lettuce, though, so it also makes a great base for lettuce wraps.
Mesclun isn't exactly a type of lettuce — it's a mix of salad greens that originated in Provençal France. It typically includes leafy lettuces, arugula, and other leafy greens and herbs (such as endive and chervil). Use mesclun to make salads, blend it into smoothies, stuff it into sandwiches, or as a bed for an entrée.
Try it: Strawberry-Mango Mesclun Salad
Watercress grows in shallow, cool streams (that's where it gets its name). Its dark green leaves have a refreshing, peppery flavor that's similar to arugula. The fibrous stems of watercress are edible, but they can be tough when the plant is mature.
Try it: Spicy Watercress Salad
This French salad green is typically used on special occasions, as it is generally more expensive than the other greens on this list. Mâche (also called lamb's lettuce) is small, mild, and delicate. Since it bruises easily, make sure to handle its leaves gently.
Purslane, which is technically a weed, has moisture-rich leaves that lend tart, lemony flavor to everything from salads to stews. The summertime veggie has red stems and small, round, green leaves.