Including more greens – salads and otherwise – on your plate is a great way to lighten up the menu for spring. And if you’re stuck in a rut making the same thing most evenings of the week, switch up those greens to add some excitement to your plate!
Most greens contain Vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron, calcium, folate and dietary fiber – so they pack a great nutritional punch with few calories. Typically the darker the greens, the more nutritious the leaf.
Lettuce Categories (choices will vary depending on your store’s selection)
Butterhead: Boston or bibb lettuce leaves; mild in flavor with a buttery texture
Crisphead: your typical Iceberg; versatile, crispy, pale, resembles a cabbage head
Looseleaf: green, red leaf and oak leaf are popular choices; no head, leaves joined at stem
Romaine: traditional lettuce used for a Caesar salad; dark soft outer leaves with lighter crisp inner leaves, crispy
Unique Varietals (great alone or mixed)
Arugula (rocket): small flat loose leaves, dark green in color, peppery taste
Endive: tightly packed leaves, bullet-shaped, yellowy-white color, bitter, crisp
Curly Endive (chicory): bitter, dark green outer leaves, ragged edges
Mache (lamb’s lettuce): velvety loose leaf, light green in color, mild
Radicchio: broad wavy leaves, red and white in color, mild
Watercress: small leaves with long stems, light green in color, bright, peppery flavor
Wraps. Sauté chicken breast with scallions, water chestnuts, mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Add a drizzle of sesame oil and soy sauce. Spoon into large Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves. Roll and enjoy.
Grill. Sturdy heads of lettuce like romaine or endive can be sliced right down the middle. Give each half a quick brush of olive oil then grill until browned and slightly wilted on grilled side. Top with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and toasted walnuts. This is a great healthy side dish to add to any meal.
Sauté. Saute a loose leaf lettuce such as a mache or curly endive in olive oil. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and salt and pepper to flavor. This is a perfect bed for salmon or another grilled fish.
Salads. What lettuce should be used for which salad? You really can’t go wrong, so be creative and experiment with different varieties or blends. My favorite salad is simple and delicious: Arugula or watercress topped with …
- crumbled blue cheese (look for reduced-fat)
- toasted pine nuts
- balsamic glaze
- extra virgin olive oil
Be adventurous with your greens and you’ll be on your way to a delicious culinary creation!