Season: April to June and September to November
Description: Lettuce is a source of vitamin A, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. The vitamin A in lettuce helps maintain eye health. Lettuce also provides potassium, vitamin K and folate. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure, vitamin K helps build and maintain strong bones, and folate may reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating foods with folate before pregnancy helps lower the risk of delivering a baby with neural tube defects. Types of Lettuce include: Boston, Radicchio, Endive, Lambs, Butter, Red leaf, Green leaf, Romaine, Iceberg, Escarole.
Vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Potassium, Folate
Selection: Choose butterhead and crisphead lettuces that are crisp with pale green outer leaves and pale yellow green inner leaves. Choose loose leaf lettuces that are dark in color with crisp, whole unbroken leaves with no wilting or spoiling.
Storing: Unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use within 3 to 5 days. Avoid storing lettuce with apples, pears or bananas as these fruits give off ethylene gas that is a natural ripening agent and can cause lettuce to get brown spots and decay.
Preparation: Rinse lettuce in cold water and pat dry with a clean towel. Tear lettuce into pieces. Avoid cutting lettuce leaves in advance to maintain vitamin C levels and prevent early browning of leaves.
Serving: Lettuce is almost always eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. Tossed salads can combine lettuce with chopped vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions or peppers. Salads may also include fresh or dried fruit like raspberries, blueberries, apples or pears; cheese like feta, Gorgonzola, grated cheddar or Parmesan; and nuts like walnuts, almonds or pecans. Finish with a simple vinaigrette dressing. Mix together 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and drizzle over lettuce. Lettuce can also be steamed or added to soups at the end of cooking.