Feeling blue about the recent romaine lettuce recall? Well, salad lovers, don't ditch your favorite dressings just yet.
There are plenty of flavorful lettuces in the world that are a great stand-in for the beloved leafy green.
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has blacklisted romaine lettuce several times amid widespread E. coli outbreaks. On Tuesday, the CDC once again advised consumers and all food service establishments to stop buying romaine immediately and to throw away any remaining lettuce, even if some of it had been eaten without noticeable effects.
“This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad,” the CDC said in a statement.
But if your Thanksgiving spread just wouldn't be complete without a leafy green salad, fret not: there are several great replacements for romaine out there. Here are five fantastic lettuces to try.
1. Butter is sometimes better
Butter lettuce, so named for its mild taste, has a pleasant crunch to it thanks to the stem, but it has a much sweeter flavor and smoother texture than romaine. It's wonderful in sandwiches (since you'll be making plenty with all that leftover turkey) and it can be purchased in bags or still attached to the root. That's known as hydroponic butter lettuce, which might sound fancy, but it's actually available at many grocery stores.
This buttery, leafy green pairs beautifully with a variety of dressings, too, from a creamy ranch to a tangy vinaigrette. This type of lettuce is also great because, like romaine, it has larger leaves that can be used as edible bowls for recipes like Giada De Laurentiis' savory lettuce cups.
2. Why kale is king
As an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K and magnesium, kale has a reputation for being one of the most mighty among leafy greens. In fact, Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons who co-authored "The Happiness Diet," called kale "one of the healthiest foods on the planet," due its high nutritional value.
Some novice home cooks may fear this green's rough leaves and thick stems, but don't worry, all they need is a gentle massage with a little olive oil to loosen up and become wonderfully tender. Kale is also a great green to use in place of romaine in a Caesar salad since its slightly bitter, earthy flavor pairs wonderfully with very salty flavors like pancetta or pecorino cheese.
If you don't want to add extra oil, you can also blanche kale in boiling water before dressing it to soften the leaves. Another plus for kale? It doesn't get soggy as quickly as other lettuces after it's been dressed, which makes it ideal for entertaining.
3. Awesome arugula
If you don't like food with a little bite to it, arugula may not be for you. However, its distinctly fresh flavor makes it a wonderful complement to earthy winter produce, like root vegetables, or sweeter fruits, like pears.
For those who love salads with an edge, arugula is truly great on its own since it has a wonderfully peppery bite. TODAY Food recommends dressing it simply with just a splash of lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt.
4. Crunch it up with iceberg
Iceberg is so delightfully crunchy that it might even drive a wedge (we couldn't help ourselves!) between you and romaine. This cabbage-like head of lettuce might be lower on vitamins and minerals than other greens but its crunch factor can't be beat. Try slicing it into quarters and topping it with some blue cheese and bacon for a classic steakhouse wedge salad. This lettuce also adds great texture to tacos or it can even be used to keep a roast turkey moist.
Fun fact: This pale green lettuce has a bad reputation for being light on nutrients, but it still contains moderate amounts of vitamins A and C. Plus, it is very low in calories which means you can enjoy plenty of it.
5. Spinach is spectacular
Spinach is a great green to have on hand because it's incredibly versatile yet very nutritious. While it may not provide the crisp bite of lighter lettuces, it is rich in iron, fiber, beta carotene and vitamin C. Plus, regular consumption of spinach has been linked to lowering blood pressure.
In addition to being a delicious salad base, spinach is great sauteed with a little lemon and garlic or as a nutrient booster in sweet smoothies, frittatas, pastas, soups and more. It can even replace a traditional dough crust as the bottom of a low-carb quiche.
Let's see romaine do that.