Lettuce in a salad dish is pretty much a staple; you can’t have a good dietary salad without it.
But when you see so many different types of lettuce on a salad bar, something must’ve caught your mind.
A question like “Oh, which one’s the best for my body?” will make you reconsider the choice of lettuce you’re about to eat.
If that’s the case, then there’s no answer to that because different lettuce yields different nutrition, and none is better than others.
Therefore, what you need to know first is the lettuce varieties, their nutrition value, and how they could complement each other.
Once you do, you can mix different types of lettuce instead of consuming one type only.
By doing so, you will receive various nutrition values that are beneficial for your body.
Several types of lettuce may not be available in your local region, while others flourish around you. Regardless, you should check out their texture and flavor profile.
1. Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce gained bad media rep because of a rumored E. coli outbreak contaminated it.
Fortunately, this bittersweet and sturdy lettuce has already been deemed safe from contamination by the CDC.
Therefore, it’s now safe to eat this crunchy lettuce for your regular salad or Caesar salad.
2. Iceberg Lettuce
Iceberg lettuce has a more neutral flavor and crispier texture.
Such characteristics make this lettuce more durable than the other types of lettuce, providing that you don’t wash it before storing it.
3. Butter Lettuce
As the name suggested, butter lettuce has a soft, buttery texture.
Although it is still common lettuce, its two other lettuce varieties called Bibb and Boston are different in texture, flavor, and rarity.
4. Leaf Lettuce
Leaf lettuce has three different varieties: Oak, green, and red. Green has neutral veggie flavor, while red has a more burgundy tint flavor.
On the other hand, oak is nuttier and spicier, giving a unique flavor profile to your taste bud.
However, each has a tender texture and no head of lettuce, which makes them easy to digest.
5. Boston Lettuce
Boston is one of the different lettuce varieties of butter lettuce. Despite having a similar texture to the butter lettuce, this one has a very loose head of lettuce with large and fluffy leaves.
As a result, the texture is more tender with the addition of astringent, nutty, and sweet flavors.
6. Bibb Lettuce
Similar to the Boston one, Bibb (limestone) lettuce is another different type of butter lettuce.
But compared to the Butter variant, this one has a more distinct flavor and delicate leaves, which makes it more delicate and expensive.
Kale is not entirely considered among the lettuce varieties, but it has unique nutrition values.
Iron, calcium, and vitamin A and C are contained within its bitter, crunchy leaves. If you’re not into the bitter flavor, roast the leaves to make kale chips.
8. Arugula Lettuce
Arugula lettuce has a peppery flavor with long, spiky dark green leaves.
Therefore, if you’re into a very bold-flavored salad, kale will make a good choice.
However, take note that bigger leaves mean stronger flavor, so be sure to taste it before eating it all.
9. Escarole Lettuce
Compared to the other types of lettuce, escarole is less suitable for making a salad.
Its slightly bitter flavor and frilly leaves won’t disappear even after being cooked on high heat. Therefore, escarole is more suitable for soup or pasta dishes.
10. Radicchio Lettuce
Its red-purple color is very iconic in a more elegant salad dish.
Crunchy and a little bit bitter with a small head of lettuce, it can also be cooked on high heat.
When it does, the purple color becomes brown, and the flavor turns sweet.
11. Belgian Endives
Belgian endives are not completely different lettuce compared to radicchio or escarole.
It has a similar compact head of lettuce, distinct flavor, and crunchy texture. However, it’s more suitable for a salad, although you must beware of its bitter edge.
12. Batavia Lettuce
Batavia lettuce can survive in warm weather while other types of lettuce can’t. That’s why the crispiness is more sustainable, as with the flavor.
While it comes with red and tint leaves colors, both have no real difference and are perfect for a salad.
13. Mustard Lettuce
The spiky, dark green leaves have a great pungent flavor with a hint of spiciness and unique texture. It’s perfect for a salad with simple or bold dressings.
14. Dandelion Greens
Similar to kale, it’s a different veggie compared to other types of lettuce here.
However, this is still a good choice for a salad for its powerful bitter flavor. You can add it raw with pungent and/or acidic dressings, or blanch and braise it first to reduce the bitterness.
15. Little Gem Lettuce
As its name suggested, little gem lettuce is indeed small with the head of lettuce sharing the same characteristics as the leaves.
It’s overall very soft and very slightly crunchy, perfect for a salad with citric dressings and light vinaigrettes.
16. Lamb’s lettuce
Lamb’s lettuce is also known as Mâche or corn salad. The small leaves are mild and sweet with a delicately soft texture, perfect for a salad with shallot vinaigrette.
But beware, soils tend to be kept around the roots, and cleaning it is also difficult due to its delicate leaves.
17. Mesclun lettuce
In Provencal, Mesclun means mixed lettuce comprised of many different types of lettuce, such as mizuna, arugula, and watercress.
While different lettuce types are combined, the overall texture is the same with a spicy flavor.
It’s generally tolerant toward any dressings, but French vinaigrette is usually the way to go.
Mizuna is similar to mustard lettuce, albeit slightly more expensive. This is because the leaf is more delicate and richer.
It’s a great addition for dishes like hot-pots, stir-fries, soups, and even mochi.
Before farmers markets sell Purslane, it’s mostly foraged from the wilderness in parks or meadows.
The spongy and thick leaves are great for a salad with herb-laced or acidic dressings.
20. Baby Beet Greens
The purple veins from the leaves are very striking, making your salad very elegant.
As for the leaves themselves, they’re best eaten when immature to gain tender texture and spicy flavor. They can also change the veins’ color when wilted, resulting in a sweeter flavor.
Several types of lettuce can be combined due to similar texture and flavor profiles.
Regardless, each has a unique flavor that may or may not be suitable for your palette. The key is to experiment; try different lettuce varieties if possible.
They’re all unique and delicious additions to your salad, making your diet more exciting and healthier than ever.