Lettuce of all types is one of the signature crops for our farm, frequently included in our CSA boxes, brought with us to market, and sold to our grocery and restaurant partners. We grow lettuce April through December and work hard to have a consistent supply even through the heat of summer. CSA members can expect lettuce weekly for most of the season with a couple breaks where other special salad mixes (or our umami blend) are featured instead.
What we grow
When you think of lettuce, you probably think of romaine or leaf lettuces (both of which we grow and provide regularly), but we also love to grow specialty heads so we can offer more variety. Lettuce heads we grow are:
- Green Leaf
- Red Leaf
- Red Butterhead (or Boston lettuce): a beautiful, buttery textured head
- Mini varieties (such as Little Gems and Baby Romaines): dense, crisp and sweet and do particularly well in the spring and fall.
- Baby lettuce mix: a fluffy blend of different baby lettuce varieties which is pretty similar all season long.
Occasionally, we also do a summer crisp/Batavian mix which is like a cross between a romaine and leaf lettuce in terms of eating quality.
You should store lettuce in a loose plastic bag and develop a system that works well with your own fridge, since every fridge runs a little bit differently.
The goal of storing lettuce is to keep it dry (so the lettuce won’t get slimy) but not too dry (so the lettuce won’t get wilted and lose its signature crunch). There are a lot of ways to do this. We recommend keeping lettuce mix in a bag (you can add a piece of paper towel if it seems to not last as long as you want) and place head lettuce in a loose bag or bin that is closed but leaves plenty of space for the lettuce to breathe. Stored correctly, lettuce mix should last a week and head lettuce can last up to two weeks.
A lot of people want to prep their head lettuce right away (wash, spin, chop and put in a container) so it’s ready to use whenever they like, but it’s actually best to wait to do this until you plan to use the lettuce (or at most, 24 hours in advance).
How to choose a lettuce
At the market, our customers often ask for our opinion on how to choose a good head of lettuce. When shopping for lettuce, you always want to look for a head of lettuce that looks perky (well-hydrated with no signs of wilting). If it’s a bit wet and cold, that’s great too. That is what we aim for when we bring lettuce to market to ensure the best shelf life.
What lettuce is best for what
Another thing our customers regularly want to know is how the lettuces are different and which variety we recommend for certain types of dishes. Below you will see our recommendations for our favorite lettuces to use for different recipes as well as our opinions on what will work best, but it’s also important to remember that when it’s all said and done, all lettuce can be used for any recipe that demands lettuce, and it will taste just fine.
- For example, you can make caesar salad from leaf lettuce, it will be just fine, but we love the crunchiness of a baby or full sized romaine. It pairs beautifully with the rich, creamy dressing. Honestly, romaine and mini gems are great for other creamy thick dressings like ranch or blue cheese. Our salad mix also stands up to thick dressings well.
- Butterhead lettuce is really beautiful and delicate so it demands a more delicate salad (think something with a bright, lemon or mustard based dressing and thinly sliced vegetables on top). These leaves also tend to be broad and make great lettuce wraps for dishes like larb that are very rich but light in texture.
- Leaf lettuce is the ultimate sandwich and burger lettuce. It has great texture but isn’t as stiff as a romaine or little gem. We love to stack many layers of these beautiful leafy greens on our sandwiches.
- Leaf lettuce is probably the most versatile of all the lettuces when it comes to how to eat it. Roughly chopped, it makes a great salad green, but it’s also sturdy enough to stand up to being used for lettuce wraps where the ingredients are dense and need something that can handle their physical weight.
What to do with all that lettuce
The first thing you are going to want to do as a CSA member or market lettuce lover is get super comfortable with salad. You’ll want to figure out your favorite dressings, pairings, and styles and keep the pantry items on-hand you need to enjoy them regularly.
We’re not going to share a ton of salad recipes here (okay, maybe one), but we do want to make sure you know about our Building Better Salads resource. This guide has the formula you need to build salads that can serve as a full meal as well as different seasonal inspiration (and ingredient pairings) and a handful of recipes! It’s available on our website as well as in a printable PDF.
We also have a couple great salad dressings linked on our recipe page and plan to add more throughout the years.
And now, some recipes
Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Recipe by: Bon Appetit
Yield: 2 servings
Time: 25 minutes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sambal oelek or Sriracha, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound ground chicken or pork
Bibb lettuce leaves, lime wedges, and tender herbs (for serving)
- Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon sambal oelek in a small bowl; set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (a little color is okay), about 3 minutes. Add chicken and lightly season with salt. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and tossing occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 5–7 minutes. Add reserved soy sauce mixture and cook, tossing occasionally, until liquid is almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes.
- Serve chicken mixture with lettuce, herbs, lime wedges, and more sambal oelek for making lettuce wraps.
Chicken Cobb Salad
Recipe by: Spend with Pennies
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes
8 cups romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ small red onion, sliced
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 ounces, blue cheese or feta cheese
2 chicken breasts, 6-7 ounces each
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning or your favorite seasoning blend
Dressing (a bottled ranch or blue cheese will work just fine too!):
⅔ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
½ tablespoon dried parsley (or 1½ teaspoons fresh)
½ teaspoon dried dill (or 1½ teaspoons fresh)
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Milk as needed
Salt & pepper to taste
- Place eggs in a small saucepan and fill with cold water 1-inch above the eggs. Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat. Cover and remove from heat.Let stand covered for 15-17 minutes (for large eggs).Remove from hot water and place in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. Peel and cut into quarters.
- Cut chicken breasts horizontally to create 4 thinner chicken cutlets. Toss the chicken with oil and seasoning.
- Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 3 minutes per side or until cooked through. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
- Whisk all dressing ingredients (except milk) in a small bowl. Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, to reach desired consistency (I use about 2 tablespoons). Season with salt & pepper to taste and refrigerate.
- Place lettuce in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Top with eggs, avocado, tomatoes, onion, blue cheese, bacon, and finally the sliced chicken.
- Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.
California Veggie Sandwich
Recipe by: Bon Appetit
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes + enough time to allow the pickles to chill
2 cups apple cider vinegar
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup kosher salt + more to season
4 cups any combination shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, sliced red onions, and/or sliced mild fresh chiles
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Freshly ground pepper
2 ripe avocados, halved
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
6 cups mixed lettuce leaves, ribs removed if thick
8 slices multigrain bread, toasted
½ English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced on a diagonal
2 cups sprouts (or we recommend microgreens)
- Bring vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and 2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, pack vegetables into jars. Pour brine over vegetables. Cover and chill until cool. Do Ahead: Pickles can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep chilled.
- Whisk buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, and 3 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl until smooth; season dressing with salt and pepper.
- Scoop avocados into a small bowl; add 1 Tbsp. oil and lightly mash. Season with salt and pepper. Mash goat cheese with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in another small bowl until softened and spreadable; season with salt and pepper.
- Add lettuce to dressing and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Spread avocado mixture over 4 slices of bread. Arrange lettuce over and top with cucumber, sprouts, and some drained pickles. Spread remaining 4 slices of bread with goat cheese and close sandwiches.
Little Gem Salad With Garlicky Almond Dressing
Recipe by: NYTimes Cooking
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 20 minutes
4 to 6 heads of Little Gem lettuce
¼ cup crushed toasted almonds
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Remove wilted exterior leaves from each head of lettuce. Cut stems from the lettuce heads, separate leaves and swish in a large basin of cold water, letting any sand or dirt sink to the bottom. Lift the leaves from the water and transfer to a colander. Shake away excess water. Wrap in kitchen towels to dry or use a salad spinner.
- Make the dressing: Put almonds, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Put leaves in a wide salad bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Dress lightly just before serving, using 2 or 3 tablespoons of dressing and coating leaves well. Taste and add more dressing as necessary. Store any remaining dressing in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.