What Are Salad Greens?
Salad Greens are any vegetable leaves eaten raw that may include petioles, shoots, and flowers. Many people simply think of lettuce, spinach, or kale as salad greens. The truth is these are only a small portion of greens available for fresh use in salads and other dishes. Other plants such as mustards, cabbage, radish greens, chard, chrysanthemum, microgreens, and sprouts may be included in this category. You don’t even need to leave the category of lettuce to realize the variety available when it comes to salad greens. Learn more about the different types of lettuce and greens below. Each vegetable brings its own unique flavors and textures for a delightful salad experience. Spice things up or diversify the color of your next salad with these options.
Types of Lettuce:
Romaine lettuce is also known as ‘Cos” lettuce with a rib that runs down the center of the leaf. It is often found with a cylindrical head formation and is more heat tolerant than other lettuce types. This means you can enjoy tasty lettuce leaves longer without the plant bolting and going to seed due to warming weather. This type is available in standard green, red, or mixed colors.
Crisphead lettuce forms a traditional roundhead with a mild flavor, much like you would find in the grocery store. It is also known as ‘Iceberg lettuce’ and is recognized by its stacked leaf formation. This type is also available in green and red colors.
Leaf lettuce grows quickly and is not a head-forming type. Instead, the leaves grow in loose clusters and are also known as ‘loose leaf’ lettuce. This type is popularly grown as baby greens (an early harvest within a month of sowing) or microgreens (harvested within a couple of weeks from sowing).
Butterhead is one of my favorite types because of the soft and buttery texture these leaves provide. They develop loose and open heads. This category also includes Boston and Bibb types. Boston bibb is a butterhead with a superior reputation for its complex lettuce flavor and delightfully crisp texture. Bibb lettuce refers to especially light-colored and tender varieties that just melt in your mouth.
Batavian types have open and loose heads that are extremely ruffled and come in a variety of colors. These types are best for resisting bolting amid the summer heat.
Some Asian varieties bring their own mix of form and taste. These varieties are best used for authentic Asian cuisine and are harvested early as they become more bitter with time. Both head and stem lettuces are available with stem varieties having a unique look resembling a cross of celery and lettuce.
If you are wanting to mix things up, you can always try a variety of types in one of our gourmet mixtures that provide a variety of colors, textures, and flavors when grown and harvested together. These are often grown and harvested at the baby leaf stage for tender leaves of the same size.
Beyond lettuce, there are many more plants that contribute to a unique salad green experience. Mustards, radishes, and arugula can add a sharp spiciness to the flavor palette as whole leaves or microgreens. Other plants such as chard, kale, broccoli rapini, and collard greens are great when incorperated into a mixture of other greens as they can have a bitter taste. Chard also works great when added to sandwiches for a nice crisp and refreshing crunch. Chrysanthemum, bok choy, spinach, and cabbage tend to have more mild and sweet flavors unless harvested late on older plants. Salads don’t have to be boring. Try diversifying your salad flavors by substituting different types of leafy greens for a new flavor or texture experience. To start out, try this 7 Pack Leafy Salad Greens Seed Assortment. Don’t wait. Many leafy greens can be grown indoors all year long!