Romaine lettuce is one of the most versatile types of lettuce.
Where can you use it in the kitchen?
How to store it properly?
And what vitamins does it contain?
All this and much more in our article!
Romaine lettuce, a vegetable used by civilizations for thousands of years
Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is considered to be one of the oldest lettuce varieties in the world and is a type of leafy vegetable that is typically deep green with elongated, firm leaves that make it more heat resistant than other lettuce varieties.
This salad is known for its mild and refreshing taste and crunchy texture. The lower part of the leaves is slightly bitter, which gives the salad a strong flavor profile.
On the contrary, the upper tips of the leaves are lighter and tastier. It is most often used as a vegetable salad, although it can also be grilled and sautéed.
In addition to the green romaine lettuce we commonly see in grocery stores, romaine lettuce also comes in a red variety with a mix of greens on the stem and red-purple leaves on top.
Health benefits of eating romaine lettuce
Eating romaine lettuce has many health benefits, such as:
- It is rich in antioxidants , which help reduce the risk of inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
- It supports bone health thanks to its high vitamin K content .
- It is a good source of folate , a vital nutrient for a healthy heart, to prevent anemia and to reduce the risk of some types of birth defects in early pregnancy.
- It supports eye and skin health thanks to its high vitamin A content .
Side effects of eating romaine lettuce
Although romaine lettuce has many health benefits, there are also some risks associated with its consumption. And what are they?
- Uncooked leafy greens such as romaine lettuce can potentially be contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. These harmful bacteria can stick to the surface of the leaves or get inside the lettuce. Therefore, do not forget to always wash the salad thoroughly under cold running water and remove all visible dirt by gently rubbing the leaves.
- Studies have found that romaine lettuce can pull heavy metals from the soil , which can then be transferred to the body of the person who eats the lettuce. Therefore, it is recommended to buy this salad in organic quality or to grow your own.
Nutritional values of romaine lettuce
In the following table, see a comparison of the nutritional values of selected types of fresh salads.
|Nutritional values|| Romaine salad|
|Energy||15 calories||14 calories||25 calories|
|Fats||0.2 g||0.1 g||0.7 g|
|Carbohydrates||2.9 g||3 g||3.7 g|
|Sugars||0.8 g||2 g||2.1 g|
|Fiber||1.3 g||1.2 g||1.6 g|
|Proteins||1.4 g||0.9 g||2.6 g|
Vitamins and minerals in romaine lettuce
Also look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that 100 grams of selected types of fresh salads contain.
|Vitamins and minerals|| Romaine salad|
|Vitamin A||370.00 mcg||25.00 mcg||119.00 mcg|
|Vitamin B1||0.070 mg||0.041 mg||0.044 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.080 mg||0.025 mg||0.086 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.375 mg||0.123 mg||0.305 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.090 mg||0.042 mg||0.073 mg|
|Vitamin B9||38.00 mcg||29.00 mcg||97.00 mcg|
|Vitamin C||9.2 mg||2.8 mg||15.0 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.22 mg||0.18 mg||0.43 mg|
|Vitamin K||126.3 mcg||24.1 mcg||108.6 mcg|
|Calcium||36.00 mg||18.00 mg||160.00 mg|
|Copper||0.03 mg||0.03 mg||0.08 mg|
|Iron||0.86 mg||0.41 mg||1.46 mg|
|Magnesium||13.00 mg||7.00 mg||47.00 mg|
|Phosphorus||29.00 mg||20.00 mg||52.00 mg|
|Potassium||194.00 mg||141.00 mg||369.00 mg|
|Selenium||0.60 mcg||0.10 mcg||0.30 mcg|
|Sodium||28.00 mg||10.00 mg||27.00 mg|
|Zinc||0.18 mg||0.15 mg||0.47 mg|
How to choose romaine lettuce and how to store it?
Romaine lettuce is commonly sold in grocery stores year-round as whole heads or as hearts , meaning the outer leaves are removed, leaving only the tender, pale inner leaves. It should be as dark as possible, because the darker the hearts are, the better they taste.
Look for lettuce leaves that are fresh, undamaged, firm and shiny, and also check the underside to make sure it’s clean. The lettuce should also not be limp and dull with faded or yellowed parts. If you are buying a whole head, it should be solid.
Always wash the lettuce thoroughly and remove the loose outer leaves. Wrap it loosely in a damp cloth or place it in an airtight container or open plastic bag. This will keep you in the fridge for about 5 to 7 days . You can also wash and dry it and store it in the fridge in a salad spinner which will dry the vegetables quickly.
You can store the leaves in it whole or cut.
How to use romaine lettuce in the kitchen?
How to prepare romaine lettuce for consumption in 6 steps
- Remove any wilted or discolored leaves.
- Rinse the lettuce under cold running water, gently separating the leaves with your fingers so that the water can flow between them.
- Dry off excess moisture with paper towels and place on a cutting board.
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the root end, leaving just enough to hold the leaves together.
- Cut the leaves at 5cm intervals to make bite-sized pieces.
- You can store the pieces you don’t use in the fridge for later.
Tips for recipes with romaine lettuce
- Nicoise salad.
A classic French salad with romaine lettuce, potatoes, green beans, olives, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers with dressing. Get inspired by our 5 luxurious recipes for Nice salad !
- Greek salad.
Chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, Kalamata olives, red onion, fresh parsley and feta cheese with a red wine dressing. If you’re looking for inspiration, try our 8 different Greek salad recipes .
- Chinese Chicken Salad.
Round romaine lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, chicken, spring onions, almonds and tangerines with ginger dressing.
- California salad with shrimp and avocado.
Grilled prawns with chilli and lime served with avocado slices, romaine lettuce and lime dressing.
- Mediterranean rolls with falafel.
Baked falafel with baby tomatoes, red onion and tahini sauce, wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves.
- Vietnamese grilled steak wrapped in romaine lettuce.
Grilled flank steak served with cucumber-ginger sauce, wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves, all sprinkled with roasted peanuts and mint leaves.
- Grilled Romaine Salad.
Hearts of romaine lettuce, coated with herb dressing and grilled cut side down. Serve whole or sliced and added to a salad.
- Rolls filled with sausage.
A mixture of sautéed sausage with seasoned herb rice stuffed into blanched romaine lettuce leaves and wrapped in rolls.
- Roast beef with romaine lettuce.
Short ribs marinated in a mixture of soy and vinegar, then sautéed with ginger, spring onions and romaine lettuce.
- A simple salad.
Pieces of romaine lettuce drizzled with olive oil, salt, black pepper and lemon juice, mixed with lean chicken or baked tofu. You can add toasted pine nuts and some pomegranate seeds.
And how else can you use romaine lettuce?
Of course, romaine lettuce also belongs to the traditional Caesar salad , but its use is really incredibly diverse. The leaves can also be mixed with garlic dressing or cucumber-herb dressing, or you can pair them with ingredients such as red onion and orange, grapefruit and shrimp. Add the leaves to sandwiches or various wraps, hamburgers or tacos .
The inner leaves of romaine lettuce make great edible “bowls” that can be topped with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, fresh dill and lemon. You can also prepare romaine lettuce rolls filled with thinly sliced capsicum, grated carrot, cherry tomato slices and ham for the children.
In addition to fresh preparations, romaine lettuce can withstand high heat, which is why it is suitable for grilling, stewing with cooked vegetables and meat, adding to soups , chopping and mixing into stir-fries. It also pairs well with bulgur, parsley, garlic, chives, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, citrus, avocado, apples, pears, black olives, capers, grilled steak, poultry, bacon, tuna, smoked fish, feta cheese, blue cheese, parmesan and hummus.
We have great recipes for 12 delicious vegetable salads that you will love!
Dressing recipe for romaine salad
And as a bonus for you, we have a tasty recipe for a dressing that you can add to your romaine salad.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
And how to do that?
- In a small glass, mix the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
- Place the lid on the jar and shake thoroughly until the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
Growing Romaine Lettuce
This is a relatively easy matter, although much more romaine lettuce is grown in southern Europe than in our country, especially in France and Italy.
However, if you want to grow it in your garden, you can do it quite easily with our following tips:
- You can sow seedlings in boxes already at the end of February . In mid-March, they can already be planted on the flowerbed.
- Use moist , nutrient-rich soil . Romaine lettuce requires both nitrogen and soil moisture for rapid growth. Fertilize or amend your garden soil with plenty of compost.
- Avoid planting romaine lettuce in midday sun. Instead, transplant seedlings on a cloudy day or evening to prevent dehydration and reduce transplant shock.
- Ensure sufficient spacing , ideally at least 30 cm. If you give your romaine lettuce enough room to grow, you will get bigger heads. This also improves air circulation, which can reduce rotting.
- Protect from pests . However, it is advisable to avoid using pesticides on lettuce because it is easily absorbed by the leaves.
- Plant fewer plants more often . To ensure enough lettuce throughout the growing season, try planting romaine lettuce every few weeks. You can also harvest it leaf by leaf to extend the harvest.