Salad Gardenby Angie

27 Mar 2011
4:03 pm

The heat wave in January that I posted about didn’t last, and it’s been very cold and wet here. However, I’ve still managed to make some progress in my backyard! In addition to my herb garden, I now have a little “salad garden” right outside our back door. Between the two containers, I have 6 baby romaine, 6 sierra lettuce (a variety of red leaf), 6 sugar snap pea plants, and one each of arugula, sorrel, and stevia.

Confession time… At the nursery, i actually went over the whole table of lettuce-like seedlings and tasted each one so I would only be buying things I would actually eat. I just pulled off little leaves near the edge – in a couple of cases, I picked one that was starting to come off anyway! And, yeah, I ate them right there in the nursery. They’re really good about organic growing and no pesticides on veggies and stuff, so I don’t think I’m in danger of dying… There were only two that I tasted and didn’t buy, one of which was radicchio, which I now know I REALLY don’t like. I wanted to get spinach, too, but they didn’t have any seedlings. I may start some spinach from seed.

It’s funny – growing up, I somehow thought that all kinds of lettuce just tasted the same – like a whole lot of nothing. Like it was just a neutral canvas for THE REST of the salad to sit in. The only considerations were how green it was (Mom says greener is healthier) and how crispy it was (Dad likes it crunchier). I guess my taste buds are finally growing up!

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  1. Momma Hoffman
    5:20 AM on March 28th, 2011

    So, for my own benefit, I’d LOVE for you to describe as best you can what your different lettuce varieties taste like to you. I want to add more varieties to my lettuce garden, too, but have no clue which ones taste like what, and haven’t found a great nursery for buying seedlings at around here yet. I’d have to do it all from seed.

  2. Angie
    9:46 AM on March 28th, 2011

    Ok, here I am with a little bowl of lettuce in front of me, and here I go describing each…

    Baby Romaine: Basically, a lot like the romaine you get from the store, but a little more flavorful, and less bitter than some grocery store varieties I’ve had. It has a kind of…um…bright taste? Anyway, it’s a good basic savory leaf.

    Sierra (red leaf variety): Similar to the romaine, but a little more earthy – not bright. Very nice neutral for savory salads.

    Arugula: Very strong and peppery. It tends to overpower salads unless there are other strong flavors in there, but can be balanced out by some sweetness (it’s used a lot in Asian salads, apparently). It’s really tasty on a roast beef sandwich!

    Sorrel: Tart, almost fruity flavor. The smaller leaves are nicer – they tend to turn bitter as they get bigger. There are a couple of different varieties of sorrel; I happen to have bought French, since that’s what the nursery had.

    Stevia: VERY sweet. It tastes like a leaf dipped in simple syrup. Frankly, I don’t know if this is really a vegetable or herb or what – it was on the lettuce table, but when I got home and started reading about it, it seems more like an herb. Apparently, a powdered form of its leaves can be a low-glycemic sugar replacement (like agave).

    I only got one plant each of the last three because I wasn’t very confident that I’d use them really often, but I’m trying to branch out and give more things a try :)

  3. Momma Hoffman
    12:04 PM on March 28th, 2011

    Thanks so much for your lettuce etc descriptions! If you really want to get into lettuce, check out this sight! I used to get their catalog, which I thought was fabulous. I ordered several fun lettuce seed types from them back in my early Orem days, but never planted a one. I was too busy raising boys to take time to plant lettuce ;-) I’m hoping some of the seeds are still viable, because I plan to plant some here in GA.

  4. Andre
    4:43 PM on March 28th, 2011


    Wow – I didn’t know you could be so descriptive.! Yes, Stevia is a sweetener – I’ve never heard of people eating it as lettuce.


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