Lettuce 101

With fresh produce overflowing in the markets, summer is the time for salad. It’s light, won’t weigh ya down while your running from one festival to another, and, let’s face it, eating a salad makes you feel good ‘n healthy.

Boston Lettuce:
Another softy in the leafy greens world is the Boston head o’ lettuce. The leaves make natural, if fragile cups, which can hold a scoop of fruit salad, or tuna salad, or simply salad fixin’s. Boston lettuce is also one of a few varieties known as butter lettuces, given its silky texture.

Red leaf lettuce:
Red Leaf Lettuce is the baby of the bunch – it wilts quickly and cannot be handled too harshly; especially the tips where the leaves have started to blush. The flavor is refreshing and slightly nutty, and it has a soft bite to it, rather than a crunch. Red leaf’s little cousin, green leaf, suffers from the same fragility.

Kale is the balsamic vinaigrette of the aughts; it signals a certain awareness of cuisine trends and ideas of foodie culture. It does add a lot of texture to a salad and pairs well with strong cheeses, dried fruit, and nuts. Kale, though, needs some lovin’. First, cut the central stem that goes up the back of the leaf, and then chiffonade it like you would basil leaves. The smaller the pieces, the less chewing of the kale cud. Before introducing the kale base to the add in, toss it with the dressing or a squeeze of lemon juice and massage it for a minute. This will further help to rid the kale of its inherent toughness.

I never really liked arugula; I thought it was too assertive in a salad, too spicy. Then I went to Ireland where they called it “rocket” and I fell in love with it. Maybe I just like saying rocket salad, instead of the clunky arugula. What ever you call it, these single leaves do have a peppery taste and can overwhelm a combo. Serving it with a lemon dressing can soften its approach.