lettuce

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Also known as
Salad greens, Salad ka patta

Description
Lettuce is a green leafy vegetable. They have green crispy leaves. When these leaves are broken they secrete white milky liquid which is bitter in taste. Mild in flavour, it has been used over the centuries as a salad green. Lettuce can be of various varieties and some of the popular ones are as follows:

Chopped lettuce
Use a plastic knife in order to chop lettuce. The crisp head of lettuce should be placed on chopping board and cut from centre. Make four equal halves and chop these wedges into vertical strips .Combine these vertical strips , place them horizontally on board and finely chop them in horizontal way uniformly. This will give you finely chopped lettuce that can be used to garnish soups, vegetables, meats , gravies and added in fillings for making a sandwich wrap. To roughly chop lettuce, place the head of lettuce on chopping board and slice them unevenly in vertical stripes first and then make horizontal cuts.
Shredded lettuce
Pick a crisp , fresh , head of lettuce and clean it under running water and pat it dry. With a sharp knife cut the head down the centre and cut half in half again. If you want to shred smaller pieces cut these half in half again. Begin shredding by cutting the wedges of these small pieces. Work from one side to the other side and loosen the shred. Alternatively, take individual leaves and roll like a cigar. Now, using aknife, cut finely from the rolled ends to shred. These shreds are mostly used in addition to other vegetable and meat preparations. They are also used in leafy vegetable salads in combination with cabbage.

How to select
Lettuce should be fresh and green in colour. Ensure there are no black, slimy spots on the leaves of lettuce and they are free from any tears and blemishes. Their edges should not be discoloured or yellow-brown in colour. The head of lettuce should be firm.

Culinary Uses
· Lettuce is commonly and most popularly used in fresh garden salads or green salads. Use a combination of varieties of lettuce, vegetables and dressings of your choice to make varieties of salads.
· Use as a base in open sandwiches, burgers, hot dog rolls etc. It gives a nice crunch to the recipe.
· Lettuce leaves can be blanched and then used as a base to make wraps and rolls. Use fillings like flavoured rice, meats etc.
· Lettuce goes well with any vegetables, meats, soy products, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and cheeses.

How to store
Lettuce should be washed and dried to remove excess moisture. Then, it should be stored in refrigerator wrapped in plastic bag or damp cloth so that it remains crisp. It is recommended that lettuce should be prepared on the very day it is bought. It should be stored away from ethylene products like apples, pear , bananas, since they can cause the leaves to turn brown.

Health Benefits
· Lettuce is fat free and low in calories.
· It is an excellent source for Vitamin A and folic acid.
· As it has iron and phosphorus, it adds nutritional value to the meal.
· It has vitamin C content which prevents oxidation of cholesterol in heart.
· Fibre contained in Lettuce helps to lower the cholesterol levels.
· The bitter flavoured lettuces and the ones with pigmented leaves are rich in antioxidants.




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