Food safety continues to be a concern for many consumers, and last year’s romaine E. coli outbreak caused many to reconsider lettuce, a food that’s always carried a super-shiny health halo. Now, lettuce is battling to re-establish itself as a trusted food that is not only delicious, but a source of well-being, too. As the third most frequently consumed vegetable, after potatoes and tomatoes, in the average American diet, lettuce is a familiar ingredient that’s seeking a way to return to the good graces of consumers who want to be assured that the food they purchase offers supply chain transparency and traceability.
Forget the dirt
Urban container farms and those specializing in hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods tout themselves as sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives to traditional growing methods. Gotham Greens, with 170,000 square feet of urban greenhouse facilities in New York and Chicago, says it’s one of the nation’s largest sources for a year-round, local supply of premium quality, pesticide-free produce. In addition, these greens’ sustainability story is one that resonates with many consumers. One example of sustainability in action is Revol Greens, based in Minnesota, which reports that it uses 90 percent less water than outdoor grown varieties, by using rainwater recycled from its rooftop.
Try celtuce (pronounced “sell-tuss”)
“Top Chef” winner Hosea Rosenberg has called celtuce the “new kale.” Like so many vegetables that are being “discovered” here, the lettuce cultivar has been a prized ingredient in mainland China and Taiwan, where it’s known as qingsun or wosun. In the West, it’s also called asparagus lettuce or Chinese lettuce. Celtuce’s tender, pale green leaves and white stems can be eaten raw, pickled, grilled, roasted or stir fried. The taste has been described as mild but nutty, with a slight smoky aftertaste.
Whether the greens you’re using are mild, bitter or spicy, there’s a T. Marzetti™ salad dressing that will be a perfect complement. Discover if that sweet and succulent Boston Red will go best with ranch or raspberry. Find new complementary options for that slightly bitter, nutty bite of frisée. Check out our complete Pairing with Greens guide, which offers smart suggestions for your favorite greens.