Appearance: Baby leaves are small, dark green, and round or serrated; mature leaves are long and serrated.
Taste: Peppery, slightly bitter
Use: Often found as part of a mesclun mix or on its own in bunches or "clamshell" containers, it spices up any salad and complements fruit, cheese, and nuts. Adds a kick to sandwiches in place of traditional lettuce.
Nutritional Bite: One cup provides 10% of daily vitamin A requirements; 4% of vitamin C; and 4% of calcium.
Appearance: Long, thin, palegreen (almost white) leaves with brighter green tips
Taste: Slightly bitter, crunchy
Use: The whole leaf can hold pâté or salsa as an appetizer; chiffonade a portion of the head of the lettuce and add to salad; halve a head and grill, then combine with other grilled lettuces such as radicchio and romaine for a warm salad.
Nutritional Bite: A head (513 g) provides 222% of daily vitamin A requirements; 56% of vitamin C; 27% of calcium; and 24% of iron.
Butterhead (Boston, Bibb)
Appearance: Loose green leaves
Taste: Delicate, buttery flavor
Use: Mix with other greens; a whole leaf can be used as a bed for vegetable-, chicken-, or eggbased salads or on sandwiches.
Nutritional Bite: A head (163 g) provides 108% of daily vitamin A requirements; 10% of vitamin C; 6% of calcium; and 11% of iron.
Cabbage (napa, red, green, and bok choy)
Appearance: Napa has long, wide leaves that are white in the center and light green on the edges; red cabbage has wide, deep-purple leaves; green cabbage has wide pale-green leaves; bok choy has pale crunchy stalks with soft, darkgreen leaves.
Taste: Mild with crunch
Use: As chiffonade, these cabbages are a refreshing base for coleslaw and Asian-style salads or a nice accent to other greens.
Nutritional Bite: Varies by type. A head (1,248 g) of regular cabbage provides 24% of daily vitamin A requirements; 761% of vitamin C; 50% of calcium; and 33% of iron. Frisée (also called curly endive or chicory)
Appearance: Frilly, thin leaves that are green on the outside and paler in the center
Taste: Bitter and crisp (paler leaves are milder and tender)
Use: Combine with sweeter, milder lettuces for flavor and texture contrast. Stands up well to warm ingredients like grilled vegetables or warm dressings because it resists wilting.
Nutritional Bite: A cup provides 33% of daily vitamin A requirements; 12% of vitamin C; 3% of calcium; and 1% of iron.
Appearance: A mix of tender young lettuces traditionally composed of chervil, arugula, and endive
Taste: Depends on the variety of lettuces, but baby greens are relatively sweet and buttery.
Use: Great on its own with a light dressing or as textural contrast to crunchier greens like romaine or iceberg
Nutritional Bite: 4 1/2 ounces (128 g) provides 40% of daily vitamin A requirements; 10% of vitamin C; and 4% of calcium and iron.
Appearance: Green or red loose leaves that are lobed Taste: Buttery leaves with crunchy stems
Use: Tear it up and add to salad mix for texture and color, or use as an edible bed for vegetable-, chicken-, or egg-based salads.
Nutritional Bite: One cup provides 40% of daily vitamin A requirements; 30% of vitamin C; 6% of calcium; and 8% of iron. Spinach
Appearance: Baby leaves are small and dark green; mature ones are larger.
Taste: Tender and sweet (mature leaves are tougher and can have a metallic taste)
Use: Combine with garlic vinaigrette, chopped egg, and a few bacon bits for a classic spinach salad. It can also be mixed with bitter greens like endive or radicchio for a colorful and peppery salad.
Nutritional Bite: A bunch (340 g) provides 638% of daily vitamin A requirements; 159% of vitamin C; 51% of iron; and 34% of calcium.
Appearance: Wide red leaves with white stems and veins
Taste: Slightly bitter
Use: Individual leaves can be used as a base for hors d'oeuvres; chiffonade the head and add it to salad; or grill wedges and serve them warm or at room temperature topped with a vinaigrette.
Nutritional Bite: One cup provides 5% of daily vitamin C requirements.
Red Leaf, Green Leaf
Appearance: Dark red or green, large leaves that are often ruffled at the edges
Taste: Mild and slightly sweet
Use: Since these mild greens don't have crunch, they lend a soft, frilly feel and, in the case of red leaf lettuce, a colorful contrast to a mixed salad; or use as a bed for vegetable-, chicken-, or egg-based salads.
Nutritional Bite: One cup provides 42% of daily vitamin A requirements; 2% of vitamin C; 1% of calcium; and 2% of iron.
Appearance: Long leaves ranging from light to dark green, depending on which part of the head is used
Taste: Mild with crunch
Use: Good in salads that include cheese, beans, and raw veggies. A single large leaf can be used as a "wrap" for mixed veggies, rice and beans, or a chicken, walnut, and apple salad.
Nutritional Bite: A head (626 g) provides 727% of daily vitamin A requirements; 250% of vitamin C; 21% of calcium; and 34% of iron.
Watercress Appearance: Short, round, dark-green leaves on long stems. Often sold in bunches with roots attached (they may be sitting in water, like fresh flowers).
Use: It adds a kick to mesclun salads or other mixed greens; on its own and dressed with a vinaigrette, it is a refreshing accent to grilled fish and chicken dishes. Delicious on sandwiches. Nutritional Bite: One cup provides 32% of daily vitamin A requirements; 24% of vitamin C; and 4% of iron.