By Debbie Koenig
In case you haven’t seen the headlines: Thanks to an E. coli outbreak, the CDC is advising all of us to avoid eating romaine lettuce (including in prepared salad mixes) unless we’re absolutely sure it hasn’t come from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region. If you’re not buying from the farmer directly, that can be difficult to ascertain—and my area farmers markets don’t have romaine yet. I love a crunchy romaine leaf as much as the next person, but that ain’t the only green in the garden. These varieties now appear regularly in my salad bowl:
Baby kale currently tops my go-to list. The flavor’s not as assertive as full-grown kale, and the leaves are more tender, too. My son, who normally won’t even look at a kale salad, has been eating baby kale willingly—even asking for it. (I consider that a small miracle, but I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it.)
Boston lettuce has won my husband’s heart. He loves the large, soft, pale green leaves. I love that their cupped shape makes them perfect for lettuce wraps, or for topping a burger.
Spring mix from the farmers market can be pretty spectacular—just check it out in the picture above. You’ll find it in supermarkets year-round, but since springtime is literally here, I prefer the super-fresh blend of baby leaves I buy from the farmer.
Arugula, especially the tender baby leaves, offers a peppery punch that I adore. My husband and son aren’t exactly fans, though, so I reserve this one for workday lunches. A little shaved Parm, some lemon juice, and a dash of fruity olive oil, and I’m happy all afternoon.
Pea shoots have started to appear at farmers markets here. I love to add a handful or two to an otherwise ordinary bowl of greens. The light pea flavor and pretty shape make things more interesting.
Escarole offers a departure from the everyday. You’ll find this hearty green cooked in soups or braises, but I also love it raw. The more tender leaves from the inside—pale green, yellow, or white—offer plenty of crispness, and a mildly bitter flavor.
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