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.
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