Lettuce - Know Your Ingredient

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Lettuce is one of the popular green leafy vegetables. Lettuce is widely known as salad green as well. It's crispy, green/crimson-red leaves are one of the incredible sources of essential nutrients that benefit health. Indeed, it is among the most sought-after green's, be it in your crunchy green salads or healthy sandwiches. Lettuce leaves are commonly available in four different varieties -  butterhead, crisphead, loose leaf and romaine. Each variety has a distinguished appearance and slight different flavor from each other. In general, the flavor of lettuce leaf is sweet, crisp and succulent. The lettuce leaves grow packed in firm bunches tucked with a small stem at the bottom of the bunch. Lettuce leaves have no aroma, but they can brighten up any salad recipe with their flavor and texture. 

How to select: Lettuce is now readily available at green grocery stores and in supermarkets, either on its own or sealed in plastic bags. While buying lettuce always look for blemish-free, bright green colored leaves. The texture of the leaves should be crisp and free from any yellowish spots. The lettuce leaves are usually consumed raw so it's best to buy the fresh stock. 

How to store: Lettuce can be stored in a ziplock plastic bag in the fridge for a few days. Another way to store lettuce is rinse in cold water, dry over a kitchen towel and store in an airtight container in the fridge. This way it stays fresh for a longer duration. 

Culinary Uses: Lettuce leaves are commonly added to the variety of salad recipes along with other ingredients or it can be consumed on their own, with a dressing of olive oil. Lettuce is also used for presenting poached meats, eggs or other roasted vegetables. Shredded lettuce makes an excellent sandwich and wrap filling when combined with sauces. In many cuisines, lettuce is also used to make pesto, soup and delicious broth. 

Recommended Cooking Techniques: Lettuce leaf is usually consumed raw in the form of a salad, this way its nutrients remain intact. But if required lettuce leaf can be cooked using blanching or steaming method. 

Health Benefits: Lettuce leaves are a very low-calorie green-vegetable. They are the storehouse of many phytonutrients that possess health promoting and disease prevention properties. Vitamins in lettuce are plentiful. Its fresh leaves are an excellent source of several Vitamin A and beta-carotenes. It also contains good amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are essential for human body metabolism. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.