Looseleaf lettuce (includes romaine, boston, redleaf, greenleaf, and butter-head varieties) is rich in Vitamin A, folate (folic acid), and potassium. It is moderately rich in Vitamin C and calcium. It is naturally low in calories, fat and sodium.
Planting and Harvesting Looseleaf Lettuce
The ideal time to plant looseleaf lettuce in Central Texas is January to February for spring harvest and September for fall harvest. Harvest will occur March to April in the spring and November in the fall.
|Plant Looseleaf Lettuce||Harvest Looseleaf Lettuce|
|January to February||March to April|
Storing Looseleaf Lettuce
Lettuce should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and is best used within 3-5 days of harvest.
Choosing Fresh Looseleaf Lettuce
Choose crisp, brightly colored lettuce that does not have yellow, wilted, or dry leaves. Leaves should be broad, tender, succulent, and moderately smooth, and they vary in color according to the variety. Check lettuce for tip burn, a tan-brown area around the margins of the leaves. Slight discoloration of the outer leaves will usually not hurt the quality of the lettuce, but serious discoloration or decay definitely should be avoided. To use your looseleaf lettuce, wash well and pat or spin it dry before using. Add dressing just before serving to prevent wilting. Lettuce is usually eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. An exception to fresh lettuce salads is wilted lettuce salads (see the following recipe) in which the lettuce is covered with a hot vinegar/brown sugar sauce and crumpled bacon. Lettuce can also be steamed (like spinach) or added to soups at the end of cooking. Looseleaf lettuce should not be frozen because of its high water content. Once the frozen lettuce is thawed, the lettuce will fall apart and result in an extremely slimy and undesirable end-product. Many recipes that use lettuce are mainly salads. The following recipes are offered so that you may have an assortment of recipes on hand.
- 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- dash of black pepper
- 3 cups torn looseleaf lettuce leaves
- Cook bacon in skillet until crisp; drain on absorbent paper; crumble.
- Drain off bacon drippings, leaving about 1 tbsp. in skillet.
- Stir vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil; pour over lettuce; toss lightly.
- Sprinke with bacon.
Nutritional Analysis (per serving): Calories:59; Protein:3 gm; Carbohydrates:3 gm; Total Fat:4 gm; Cholesterol:7.2 mg; Dietary Fiber:0.5 gm; Vitamin A:53 RE; Folate:14.4 mcg; Vitamin C:7.9 mg; Calcium:21.8 mg; Potassium:129 mg; Sodium:315 mg;
Diabetic Exchanges: 1/3 Lean Meat, 2/3 Fat, 1/10 Fruit
- 2 cups cooked chicken
- 1 can (8 oz.) condensed, mushroom soup
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp. thyme
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 12 lettuce leaves (any looseleaf variety)
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Prepare stuffing: In mixing bowl combine chicken, bread crumbs, egg yolk, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, thyme, oregano, and 1 cup of the mushroom soup and mix well.
- Gently flatten the lettuce leaves and spread the insides with stuffing. Fold leaves around stuffing.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease large oven-proof casserole dish. Arrange stuffed lettuce leaves in a nonstick skillet: pour boiling water over them.
- Cover; simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cover; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Remove the stuffed lettuce leaves to the prepared casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare sauce: Blend remaining mushroom soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice.
- Remove casserole dish from the oven; turn temperature to broil. Spread stuffed lettuce with sauce.
- Sprinkle with cheese; dust with paprika. Broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes, or until top is puffed and golden brown.
Nutritional Analysis (per serving): Calories:424; Protein:24.9 gm; Carbohydrates:19 gm; Total Fat:28.6 gm; Cholesterol:140 mg; Dietary Fiber:1.05 gm; Vitamin A:285 RE; Folate:37.2 mcg; Vitamin C:5.72 mg; Calcium:347 mg; Potassium:415 mg; Sodium:1181 mg; Diabetic Exchanges: 1/2 Bread, 2 Lean Meat, 1/5 Vegetable, 2/5 Milk, 4 1/5 Fat
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Publication Revised January 2009