Turn Over a New (Lettuce) Leaf

Turn Over a New (Lettuce) Leaf

Leafy greens are the perfect base for any salad—but that’s not all they’re good for. Here are six fun and delicious new ways to enjoy them.

Don’t let your favorite varieties of lettuce and other leafy greens stay stuck in salad bowls. There are plenty of creative ways to use greens in all kinds of delicious new ways.

On the grill: Slice the romaine hearts in half lengthwise, leaving the core intact. Brush the cut halves with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill facedown until just charred.

In a wok: Hearty, crisp greens like iceberg (or red and green cabbage) hold up well in stir-fry dishes; add a handful in the last stage of cooking.

As a taco delivery system: Got the fixings for tacos but no shells or tortillas? Use a large, crisp lettuce leaf and wrap up a scoop of seasoned ground beef topped with tomatoes, cheese, avocado, sour cream…you get the idea.  

In the blender: You don’t always have to rely on spinach or kale for green smoothies; try red or green leaf lettuce, romaine, bok choy, or dandelion greens. One simple recipe to try: a cup of strawberries, a banana, water, ice, and a handful of romaine in the blender. You can also add some juice for extra sweetness, or yogurt for a smoother consistency. 

As a salty snack: You’ve heard of kale chips, but you can make potato-chip-like snacks from about any leafy green. Just tear leaves to chip size and place them on an oiled or cooking-spray-coated baking sheet. Spritz with olive oil or more cooking spray, sprinkle with salt, and bake for a few minutes in a 400°F oven.

For a fresh twist on homemade sushi: Who needs seaweed? Wrap a thin lettuce leaf around sticky rice and your favorite fish or vegetarian sushi ingredients. 

Grow Your Green Knowledge

Loving the lettuces you’re seeing at the market or through your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership but not so sure which is best for what use? Here’s a handy guide to help.

· Bibb and Boston: These are light green and very soft, supple varieties of leaves. Boston is larger, with a more loosely formed head. Bibb is smaller (about the size of your fist) and pricier. Both have leaves that, when separated, form a cuplike shape that makes them ideal as a wrap for various fillings, like chicken salad.

· Romaine: Romaine has a lot of crunch and stands up surprisingly well to grilling. Simply slice romaine hearts in half (leaving the root ends intact so the leaves stay together), brush with some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Then grill until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

· Red leaf, green leaf, and oak leaf: These three cousins are loosely packed, soft, curly, and delicate—and so are best used immediately and dressed just before serving to prevent wilting. Green and red are mild in flavor; oak leaf lettuce has a slightly spicy, nutty bite. They’re best with lighter dressings.

· Iceberg: This variety’s tightly packed leaves last long when stored in the crisper. Iceberg is best shredded in a salad and holds up well under creamier dressings, like blue cheese and ranch.