As people become more nutrition conscious, salads become an essential part of a healthy meal, or even as the meal itself. Part of the reason for the popularity of salads is the freshness of the principal ingredients. For years, iceberg lettuce dominated the choice of salad greens, but today other lettuces are also popular. Greens from other botanical families are becoming frequent additions to fresh salads, as well. If iceberg is the only type of lettuce you eat, you are choosing the least nutritious member of a family of nutritional champions. Any other lettuce or leafy green vegetable would be a better choice. Most other greens are also good sources of vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, and dietary fibre as well as some calcium.
As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. For example, romaine or watercress have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By varying the greens in your salads, you can enhance the nutritional content as well as vary the tastes and textures.
Iceberg: firm green head with crisp, unblemished leaves
Butter crunch: soft, buttery and loosely-packed leaves
Mignonette: soft maroon-green head with unblemished, loosely packed leaves
Cos: crisp, elongated leaves tightly wrapped
Oakleaf: curly leaf-shaped red leaves
Coral (Green or red): small with curly green-purplish leaves and slightly bitter taste
Rocket: intense green colour and strong flavour
Chicory: outer leaves are green and bitter; pale inner leaves are tender and mild
Radicchio: ruby red miniature leaf with a slightly bitter flavour
Watercress: dark green, clover-like leaves with refreshing, peppery flavour
One of the oldest known vegetables, lettuce is a member of the daisy and thistle family and became known as a water plant for its refreshing properties.It dates back to the Ancient Greeks who believed it contained sleep inducing properties and so served it at the end of a meal. However, the dictatorial Emperor Domitian (81-96AD) brought it out at the beginning of his feasts so he could torture his guests by forcing them to stay awake in his presence!The popularity of lettuce continued into Roman times, with people benefiting from its nutritional properties – in fact Emperor Caesar Augustus built a statue praising lettuce as he believed eating it had cured him of an illness! It was traditional for Romans to begin their banquets with lettuce to enhance the appetite and relax the alimentary canal. Originating from the Mediterranean area, lettuce was first introduced into America by Christopher Columbus when he sailed ‘the ocean blue’ in 1492.
Serving size: 100 grams
Protein: 2.1 gram
Fat: 0.2 grams
Carbohydrate: 4.6 grams
Dietary Fiber : 1.2 grams
Lettuce is well-known for making salad, However, it can also be used in other ways. For example:
Lettuce soup: Equally delicious warm or chilled, a simple pureed soup of lettuce, potato, onion, and chicken stock is seasoned with hints of parsley, nutmeg and lemon and fortified with a touch of cream. Unlike lettuce in the raw, the soup only gets better as it sits and can be gently reheated throughout the week.
Stir-fried Lettuce:Stir-fried iceberg lettuce is a traditional Chinese dish thought to bring good luck.