Lettuce and Other Leaves

Types of Lettuce and Other Leaves

There are many types of salad greens and lettuces. Commonly types of lettuces available in Australia are Iceberg, Cos, Butter, Red Oak, Green Oak, Red and Green Coral and Red Mignonette. Greens also include Watercress, Sorrel, Chard (which are the immature leaves of the beetroot plant) Lambs Lettuce or Mache, Chicory, Witlof, Radicchio, and Rocket as well as the wide array of Asian greens. Mesclun or salad mix is a mixture of lettuces and other greens as well as baby spinach.

Selection and storage

Look for crisp greens with bright colours. Yellowing is a sign of age and indicates that the greens may have an off flavour. Young, leafy greens generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavour. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavours. Store in a bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Using

Wash and dry greens in a salad spinner or dry tea towel before use. Salad mix or mesclun, baby spinach and other leaves sold by the kilo are triple washed before sale, so washing is not necessary and can cause the leaves to bruise and become waterlogged.

Nutrition Information

Greens provide nutrients including fibre, beta-carotene, calcium, iron and folic acid.

Butter Lettuce

Loose hearted soft leaf lettuce with a delicate flavour. Like other loose leafed lettuces butter lettuces are fragile and bruise easily so need to be treated carefully. Good for salads.

Availability

All year round.

Endive

A leafy green bitter lettuce with very crisp frizzy leaves and a white/light green heart. Use raw in salads, mixed with other lettuce or sautéed.

Availability

All year round.

 

Watercress

Types

Originating in Europe but used in both European and Asian cooking. This aquatic plant from the nasturium family grows in running water and can be found growing in the wild in creeks and rivers in Australia.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh looking bunches with green firm leaves and stalks. To refresh summerge in cold water for 10 mins. Store for a few days in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Using

To use pick the sprigs with leaves off the main stem, discarding the stem. Watercress has a mustardy flavour that works well with strongly flavoured meats. The leaves are great in a salad, with potatoes or orange segments. Watercress goes well with eggs and goats cheese and can be made into a fresh tasting soup, served hot or cold.

Availability

All year round.

Cos and Baby Cos Lettuce

An oval lettuce with firm spoon shaped leaves. Crunchy and long lasting with a crisp strong flavour. In addition to their spoon leaf shape cos are substantial enough to handle a strong dressing or sauce, such as in a ceaser salad.

Types

Most common are the large green and mini or baby cos varieties. Red Cos is also sometimes available and has a more bitter flavour.

Availablility

All year round.

 

 

Iceberg Lettuce

These were once the only lettuces commercially available in Australia. They are still a very popular lettuce due to their affordability, their long lifespan and the compactness which means that one lettuce goes a long way. They have a crisp texture with the leaves growing whiter and firmer as you move towards the centre or heart of the lettuce. Their firmness, crispness and cupped leaf shape make them ideal for asian dishes such as sang chow bow as well as for salads with heavy dressings. Iceberg lettuce can be cooked.

Availabillity

All year round.

Coral Lettuce

Includes Green Coral and Red Coral lettuce. Leaves are crisp and tightly curled and more robust than other loose leafed varieties. Good for salads, robust slightly bitter leaves can handle strong dressings and pairings.

Availability

All year round.

Oakleafed

Can either be red leafed “Red Oak” or green leafed “Green Oak”.” These frilled leaf lettuces have a tightly packed head and mild flavour. Good for salads.

Availability

All year round.

Witlof

Witlof is a type of chicory, most commonly green but also red. In French cooking witlof is called endive. Witlof can be used raw or braised. Witlof is great with goat’s cheese and pears. Whole leaves can be filled and eaten as a delicious starter.

Availability

Witlof is available all year, it is best in winter.

Rocket

Rocket is also known as roquette, arugula, or rugula and can be eaten young or more mature. There are a number of varieties of rocket the type sold loose is called wild rocket the broader leaf more mature rocket is sold in bunches. More mature rocket has a hotter more peppery flavour and can handle being used with hot accompaniments.  Rocket is good in salad, with pasta and mild cheeses.

Availability

Available all year round, but  at its peak in spring and early summer.

Radicchio

Radicchio is a type of chicory with bitter firm leaves. There are loose leaf and dense hearted forms of radicchio, the most common form of the latter is radicchio Treviso. Treviso is milder and redder in colour than loose leaf varieties which are generally sold as simple as radicchio. Radicchio is a bitter green that can also be grilled or fried and can handle strong dressings or accompaniments. Radicchio is good with duck, pork and cheeses.

Availability

All year round.

Chicory

Endive is a type of chicory which also called frisee. There is also a long, broad leaf variety of chicory which is commonly available. Chicory is a little bitter and good with bacon, and creamy and mustardy dressings.

Availability

All year round, best in winter.

Red Butter

A red leaf type of loose hearted soft leaf butter lettuce. Red butter lettuces have a slightly more bitter flavour than green. Like other loose leaf varieties leaves are fragile, bruise easily and best for salads.

Availability

All year round.

Red Mignonette

Loose leafed lettuce with red tipped leaves and a mild flavour. Good for salads.

Availability

All year round.