With crisp, slightly bitter leaves, romaine is the lettuce of choice for the classic Caesar salad.
Romaine is a distinct variety of leaf lettuce known for its crisp, sweet and slightly bitter taste. It's tall and cylindrical in shape, and the head has dark green outer leaves that lighten toward the center. With a particularly crunchy midrib, romaine is the lettuce of choice for Caesar salad.
Thought to have originated on the Aegean island of Cos, romaine lettuce is also called cos lettuce. According to legend, Venus hid Adonis in a bed of cos lettuce, where he was killed by a wild boar. Therefore, the Greeks and Romans ate lettuce at meals following funerals.
When buying romaine or other lettuces, look for leaves that are crisp and free of blemishes. The lettuce should smell fresh, not sour.
Salad greens will keep longer if you wash them as soon as you get home from the market. To do this, cut off the bottom to separate the leaves and place them in a sink or container full of cold water. Swish the leaves around and then let them sit for a few minutes. The dirt will sink to the bottom.
After washing, thoroughly dry the greens in a salad spinner or blot with paper towels. Then loosely wrap the lettuce in dry paper towels and place in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Refrigerate for up to one week.
• Tear lettuce by hand or cut with a sharp, stainless steel knife.
• Chill salad plates and serving bowls to keep your salads crisp longer.
• Add romaine to mixed green salads for extra crunch.
• Add interest to salads with fresh-cut vegetables like broccoli, corn, green beans and jicama, or top with edible flowers.
• Toss greens with dressing right before serving so they won't turn soggy.
Try one of our favorite romaine recipes:
Yellowfin Tuna Salad
Romaine, Strawberry and Orange Salad
The Canlis Salad
View BigOven's romaine recipes