It’s this time of year, when spring is around the corner and it starts to warm up in Utah, that I really long for fresh, colorful veggies from my own garden. This week while I was doing my grocery shopping I was especially missing all that home grown fresh produce. My spirits were lifted a bit when I saw the colorful red leaf lettuce in the produce section. Salads were on the menu this week and the vibrant red and green leaves made a great addition to my shopping cart.
Red leaf lettuce is cool season crop, which means it may be one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in your garden. It’s best to harvest it before the full heat of summer hits. It is similar to romaine lettuce, except instead of being all green, it has red-tipped leaves. Not only is it fat and cholesterol free, it’s also low in sodium. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A & K. An interesting fact about red leaf lettuce is that according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration it is a calorie-free food. It is considered calorie free because it has less than 5 calories per serving, which makes it a valuable tool for weight management. Because of the fiber and water content in red leaf lettuce, you can feel full on little calories when you eat a good sized portion of red leaf lettuce.
When selecting red leaf lettuce at the store, choose leaves that are closely bunched together without brown or wilting edges. Lettuce doesn’t have a very long shelf life so it’s important to use it quickly and store it correctly. The best way to store it is to wrap the leaves in a dry paper towel and place it in a plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator. The paper towel will absorb any excess moisture which causes the lettuce to rot. When stored this way the lettuce will last about a week.
It’s a good idea to plan out a few menu items using your lettuce so you can use it quickly before it starts to rot. In addition to salads consider adding to to sandwiches, tacos, lettuce wraps, stir fries. How will you use up your lettuce this week?
One of my favorite ways to enjoy red leaf lettuce is in a Greek salad. Below is my favorite Greek salad recipe. Not only is it pretty to look at because it’s full of color, it’s also packed with nutrition. Enjoy!
Click on the recipe card for a printable version.