Romaine lettuce is enjoyed by many. It’s considered to be the most nutritious lettuce variety available. I’ve compiled a lot of information about this beloved lettuce from historical tidbits to nutritional information, how to select and store it, and also ways to include it in your meals…some of which you probably never thought of!
Below is a video where I discuss this information. Following the video are my discussion notes for you. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Romaine Lettuce 101 – The Basics
About Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce, also known as “Cos,” has sturdy, long, crispy green leaves. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean and western Asian area. Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to America in 1493 on his second trip here. In America, it is largely grown in California and is sold as whole heads or “hearts” with the outer leaves removed.
Romaine is considered to be the most nutritious variety of lettuce. Romaine has the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants per serving, when compared to green leaf, Boston bib, red leaf, and iceberg lettuces.
Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of Vitamins A (beta-carotene) and K, folate, and the mineral molybdenum. It is a very good source of fiber, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, biotin, thiamine (Vitamin B1), and vitamin C.
The vitamin C in Romaine helps in the absorption of its iron content. Also, the combination of nutrients in Romaine makes it a heart-healthy food by retarding the buildup of plaque in arterial walls. So…eat more Romaine!
How to Select
Choose leaves that look crisp and fresh, with no sign of wilting or brown spots (which indicates age). The heads should be compact with stem ends not too brown.
How to Store
Remove and discard any bruised or damaged outer leaves from your lettuce when you bring it home from the store. Wrap the lettuce in paper towels and store it in the crisper drawer. Or, wrap it in paper towels or a cloth kitchen towel and place the bundle in a grocery store plastic bag. Place it in the refrigerator somewhere where it won’t get crushed or banged around. The crisper drawer or plastic bag will maintain a humid environment, while the paper or cloth towel will absorb any extra moisture that forms, keeping the lettuce from getting wet. Save the washing until you are ready to use the lettuce.
Also, keep stored lettuce away from high-ethylene gas producing fruits like pears, apples, avocados, tomatoes, kiwi, and cantaloupe. The gas released by these foods as they ripen can cause other produce items to age faster. Keeping these foods away from your lettuce will help to keep it fresh and crisp.
When stored properly, lettuce should keep for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.
Do not freeze lettuce unless you plan to use it for cooking thereafter.
How to Prepare
If your lettuce has started to wilt a little in the refrigerator, place it in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes to revive it. If something looks REALLY bad, toss it out (when in doubt, throw it out)!
Wash your lettuce with cold water and spin it dry, if you have a salad spinner. Otherwise, you could blot it dry with a paper or cloth towel.
How to Use
Romaine lettuce makes a nutritious and crispy addition to any fresh salad where leafy greens are used.
The shape of Romaine lettuce makes it an easy replacement for tortilla or taco shells, or breads in just about any type of wrap you choose. If the leaves don’t seem quite strong enough, simply double them up before adding the filling.
You could top a bed of Romaine pieces with your favorite grilled meat or vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese.
Romaine lettuce can also be braised and served with bread and cheese, as in this recipe for Braised Romaine Lettuce Crostinis https://www.thekitchn.com/weekend-snack-braised-lettuce-115059
Romaine lettuce leaves can also be topped with your favorite cracker toppings for a simple snack, as in this recipe for Ladybugs on a Leaf (no, there are no “bugs” in this recipe) https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-ladybugs-on-a-leaf-snack-recipes-from-the-kitchn-219272
Try adding Romaine to salad rolls as in Shrimp and Avocado Summer Salad Rolls https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-shrimp-and-avocado-summer-salad-rolls-recipes-from-the-kitchn-192186
Here’s a link to 10 ways to enjoy lettuce https://www.thekitchn.com/lettuce-is-so-much-more-than-salad-here-are-10-more-ways-to-eat-it-tips-from-the-kitchn-220136
38 recipes using lettuce at Bon Appetite Magazine https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/slideshow/lettuce-recipes
Here’s an interesting recipe for Lettuce Soup (imagine that)! https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lettuce-soup-231995
40 Lettuce Recipes You Can Get Excited About https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/lettuce-recipes/view-all/