The Most Popular Salad GreensGrowing Vegetables Last Updated On 03/02/2023
Salad greens are great vegetables to grow. They are the main ingredient in numerous salads, so you can have a tasty salad whenever you wish, straight from your home garden. You may even grow many of them in containers in your balcony or even kitchen window.
In order to know what the best salad green is for you, it's important to inform yourself about all the salad greens you can grow and the type of care and conditions they require. You may also want to learn about the best ways to prepare the greens for salads and other meals.
These vegetables are known as salad greens because they are typically used raw and as a base for salads. They can also be used as a bed for other salad ingredients. These vegetables will also add a lot of flavor and texture to any meal. You may even cook them, but in this case make a quick sauté or wilting, or else they will lose their flavor and characteristics.
Of course, it's also important to wash all of the salad green thoroughly before you prepare them for consumption, especially if you want to eat them raw.
There are many different groups and varieties of vegetables classified as salad greens. Lettuces are generally known for 4 varieties: looseleaf, butterhead, crisphead and romaine. The most popular crisphead variety is the iceberg lettuce. It has a round head comprised of tightly packed leaves. Butterheads are also round but they have more loose leaves and a much smoother texture than the crisphead varieties. Romaine lettuces have elongated leaves and thick white rib. Looseleaf lettuces are loosely gathered and they grow as a rosette, so it's possible to just remove individual leaves rather than harvest the whole plant.
However, lettuce is just the most popular of the greens. Some of the others are considered more "exotic", though these days it's easy to find them in grocery stores and farmers' markets. You may even grow many of them yourself. To get seeds or seedlings, you should check at your local gardening supply shop or seek a reliable online source.
Here is the list of some of the most popular salad greens you can grow and use:
Also known as butter lettuce, this is one of the most popular salad greens in the world.
This is a well-known type of head lettuce. Bibb and Boston lettuces have very soft leaves. As the name implies, the texture of a butter lettuce is very smooth and almost oily, like butter, which can be felt in its rich taste. Bibb variety is the more expensive of the two, and it's typically sold in a plastic container too protect the gentle leaves.
Another type of lettuce. This variety is also known as "leaf lettuce".
This lettuce type has a mild flavor. It's very pliable, despite its crunchy stem. The leaves have uneven, ruffled surfaces, which adds a lot of texture to salads. Since its leaves are very large, most cooks tear them up into bite-size pieces before making a salad.
Romaine, also known as Cos lettuce, is another lettuce variety.
This is a large, leafy lettuce. It's stiffer than most of the other lettuce varieties. It has a thick center rib, which gives it a real crunch. This rib also gives the lettuce a bit of a bitter taste. This lettuce is originally used for the Caesar salad.
Oakleaf or oak leaf is a popular salad greens. There are two common varieties: red oak leaf and green oak leaf. This is another looseleaf lettuce.This lettuce has characteristic leaves similar to that of the oak tree, so this is how it got the name.
From a distance, it can be mistaken for read leaf or green leaf lettuce, but a closer look reveals major difference in texture and shape. Oakleaf lettuces are more squat and bit shorter. The tops of their leaves have a softer texture than those of the red and green leaf lettuces. This is a delicate lettuce with tender leaves. It can act as a great bed for food. It will never compete with other flavors.
This plant is also known as lamb's lettuce, corn salad, filed lettuce, field salad and fetticus.
This vegetable is often sold with its soil still attached. It adds a mild and slightly sweet flavor to any salad. It has small leaves so it's quite expensive to use it as a base of a salad. The leaves are very delicate and can bruise easily, so this plant should be handled with care.
This plant is also known as Italian cress, rocket, Mediterranean rocket, rugola, rugula, rucola and roquette. It has defined edges, though baby arugulas don't have their edges as defined as the mature plants.
It's one of the best-known salad greens, and it's widely available on the markets. Arugula is the basis of many tasty salads. This vegetable originates on the Mediterranean and it tastes a bit peppery. It's been associated with Italian dishes such as pesto.
This vegetable is also known as chicory endive, curly chicory, curly endive or chicory. Frisée is also closely related to escarole.
It has curled leaves with a bit of yellow color on them. The taste is a bit bitter, but many people adore it because of it. This plant has a crunchy stem and can add a lot of texture.
One of the most striking thing about this plant is the coloring. Pale green, yellow and white - it has it all. The color is actually a result of the growers shielding the plant from light during the growing season.
This salad green is also known as broad-leaved endive, Batavian endive and scarole.
It's a close relative to frisée. It has large, crisp leaves and it's mildly bitter in taste. It's often used in soups and it's commonly paired with beans. This reflects their popularity in the Italian cuisine.
This plant is also known as French endive, Belgian endive, Belgium chicory, witloof and witloof chicory.
This vegetable is known for its unique oval shape. It has very soft, satiny texture. Endive makes a great addition to any salad and it has a slightly bitter taste. It has a specific, scooplike shape, which makes great edible servers, which is perfect for making small appetizers, such as "spoons".
This vegetable is also known as red chicory, red leaf chicory, red Italian chicory and Chioggia. The name "radicchio" is pronounced "rah-dick-ee-yo".
This plant is known for its deep red-purple color. It's often sold as a compact round head or shaped like endive (its relative). Radicchio has a very bright coloring, which makes it stand out. It's bitter when it's raw, but cooking makes it sweet. Cooking also makes the red-purple color turn brown.
This vegetable is also known as spider mustard, xue cai, California Peppergrass, kyona, Japanese greens and potherb mustard.
This is a Japanese mustard green. It's usually sold in a premade salad mix. However, you may also purchase it loose at many farmers' markets or specialty shops. This salad green is known for its strong pungent flavor, compared to other similar plants. However, this flavor is not strong enough to over-power a dish. Mizuna has small, jagged edges that make the plant look like miniature oak leaves. These leaves add a lot of texture.
This salad greens is also known as spoon cabbage, rosette bok, Tat soi and choy. Tatsoi is native to Asia.
It has small, rounded leaves that have a mild, mutard-like flavor. This vegetable is a regular addition to many Asian salads, but people all over the world use Tatsoi for their dishes. This plant has a unique texture similar to that of baby spinach. These two plants are so similar that can be mistaken for one another.
Baby Tatsoi plant is usually sold loose. When it's matured, it can be purchased whole. It has a distinctive rosette shape, and it's typically cooked intact, usually in Chinese stir-fries. Just like Mizuna, Tatsoi is usually available only at the farmers' markets or other specialty gourmet shops.
Baby Beet Greens
This interesting vegetable is known for its tender and slightly spicy leaves when they are immature. They have characteristic purplish-red veins that are very visually striking and make a great addition to any salad. They are also great for decoration. When wilted, the veins become a bit sweeter and brighter in color.
There are many varieties of this salad green, the most popular one being watercress (at least in the US). Other popular varieties include curly cress, land cress and upland cress.
This salad green is known for its peppery taste, and all varieties have it. This vegetable is usually sold in bunches. Watercress variety has a fibrous, tough stem and small green leaves. This vegetable is often grown in sandy ground, so it's important to wash them thoroughly before use.
Photo credit: Kim Unertl