Ditch the Iceberg: Go Green With Leaf Lettuce

If you’re looking to up both the nutrient quotient andthe flavor of your salads, try switching from iceberg to leafy greens.

Rich in beta-carotene and other healthful compounds, leafy greens can help protect against cancer, circulatory diseases and many problems linked to aging. As to which greens are the best, a simple, if imperfect, rule is this: The harder they are to pronounce and the more they cost, the better they taste. They are available at most supermarkets in bunches and, often, loose in bins.

Long, medium-green, sometimes scalloped leavesAggressive peppery taste
BeetReddish stems with tender leavesMild cabbage flavor
Belgian endiveTight, elongated head with blanched white to pale yellow-green leavesSlightly bitter flavor
ChardNarrow, fan-shaped loose green leaf, with white or red veins and stemsTaste slightly of mustard
ChicoryBushy, frizzy head made of thick, crisp, narrow leaves with curly, frilly edgesRanges from slightly bitter when young to extremely bitter when old
Collard greensLarge, smooth, silvery green leavesTastes like a cross between spinach and watercress
DandelionJagged, medium-green leavesYoung leaves have a pleasant, slightly bitter flavor; older leaves are more pungent
EscaroleBroad, curly-edged, dark green leaves with pale, yellowish heartBitter flavor
KaleVery curly, dark green, coarse leaves with frilly edgesFresh, grassy flavor
Lettuce, butterheadSmall, round, loosely formed head of soft leavesButtery, slightly sweet flavor
loose leaf
Curly, loose, coarse leavesMild flavor
oak leaf
Narrow leaves with rounded edges in an oak-leaf pattern; in red and greenExtremely mild flavor with just a hint of sweetness
red leaf
Red tinged, large, loose leavesDelicate flavor
Elongated head with large, medium to dark green leaves that branch out from a white baseMild, sweet, nutty flavor
Light green, lacy leavesMildly bitter, with a slight mustard taste
RadicchioRed, cabbage-like leavesSweetly bitter flavor
SorrelBright green, tongue-shaped leavesSour flavor
SpinachDark green, tender leavesMild but musky flavor
WatercressDark green, dime-size glossy leavesSpicy, peppery flavor


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