There was a time, not long ago, when Americans said salad they meant iceberg lettuce. But today there are so many more options in the produce aisle and at your local farmers’ market. Check out our guide to leafy lettuce varieties below—then use the information to make the best salads ever—from side salads and salads with fresh fruit and produce to layered salads for parties. You also may want to check out our guide to fresh produce to see what’s in season now—and our handy guide to tiny leafy greenery, Herbs 101.
Arugula, also known as rocket, is standard salad-bowl fare in Italy and southern France. It is increasingly popular in US restaurants and markets.
Butterhead Lettuce, whose best-known varieties are Boston and Bibb lettuce, is favored for its sweet, mild flavor and delicate texture.
Heads of cabbage, either green or red, are commonly available and always reliable.
Chard, also known as Swiss chard, has large, dark green leaves with red or white stalks.
Belgian Endive, probably the most popular of the endive family, is grown completely in the dark to prevent it from turning green.
Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is another green that offers a lot of nutritional value.
Iceberg Lettuce is a perennial favorite that works in any salad.
Leaf Lettuce is possibly the most popular type of salad green, enjoyed for its universally appealing taste and texture as well as its attractive appearance.
Mesclun is a stylish array of designer greens. The mixture, which got its start in restaurants, varies depending on the season and the supplier but typically consists of arugula, Frisee (a slender, spiky member of the chicory family), oak leaf lettuce, radicchio, baby greens and sometimes-edible flowers and whole herb leaves.
Radicchio, the flamboyant redhead, is the Italian word for chicory, the family of greens from which it comes.
Romaine is a crisp, robust green that it is just right for everyday salads yet sophisticated enough for Caesar himself.
Spinach is a versatile, nutritious green that has been cultivated since ancient times.
Watercress, unlike the others, is not a garden green. It is grown in water and is usually found displayed in a container of water in the produce market.
Packaged Greens are ready when and where you need them. They are a quick and convenient way to enjoy salads.
Supermarket Salad Bar Greens are a great way to get your greens. The supermarket has already done the selecting and chopping for you. Great for a working lunch or a light, quick dinner before you head off to your after-work activities.