There are many different lettuces to choose from when making a salad. Each has its own flavor profile and its own look. There are two different kinds of lettuce leaf plants to choose from, either heading or leaf style. To help choose one for your next salad, look over this guide when shopping to identify different lettuce leaf plants.
Iceberg lettuce is an easily identifiable lettuce with its cabbage-like shape. This is a heading lettuce, meaning all the leaves form around a round head. The iceberg lettuce leaves are a light green color and fold inward forming a ball. The inner leaves will be white, a light green or a yellow-hue due to the center being shielded by the outer leaves from the sun. Iceberg lettuce shreds easily and is very crisp in nature.
Romaine lettuce is a heading lettuce as well. The leaves grow from a single head and form around the heart, or center, of the plant. These leaves grow upward and the outer leaves will be broad and tall. Generally, the center leaves of the Romaine lettuce plant will be narrow, straight and thin.
Oak Leaf Lettuce
This type of lettuce is identifiable by its oak-leaf shape. It is a loose leaf type of lettuce where the leaves grow independently and not in a ball as the heading lettuces do. Oak leaf can be found in green and in popular red oak leaf varieties, where the leaves are tinged with a bit of red color.
Spinach leaves are identified by their spoon or round shape and their dark green coloring. The leaves grow from independent stems and are often found as baby leaf spinach in the grocery stores, as spinach leaves are the most tender when harvested young.
Tatsoi or Tah Tsai
This is an Asian-style lettuce leaf related to the mustard plant. Tatsoi leaves look very similar in shape to spinach leaves and are dark in color as well. Tatsoi is harvested young when used in fresh green salads and older when used for stir fry and sauteed dishes.
Radichio lettuce is another heading type of lettuce and is often found in small, tight heads. It is easily identified with its purple color around the edges with a white color down the center of its leaves. It is a bitter lettuce leaf with a nice crunch.
Frisee or Curly Endive
Frisee, or curly endive, is a decorative leaf lettuce with very curled edges for each leaf. The leaves each form very small points that grow in a ruffled pattern. The ends of the frisee are soft and the centers are more stiff.
- Photo Credit Muffet: Flickr.com
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