Top 5: Salad Leaves

Every month this year I’ve been attempting to create a new salad recipe as part of Veg Plottings fabulous Salad Days series.  Well this month due to a combination of work commitments and a complete lack of imagination I failed to come up with anything new.  So as an apology this weeks Top 5 is dedicated to salad leaves which often just need a simple vinaigrette to become absolutely delicious.  In no particular order this is my Top 5:

Watercress – Highly nutritious, peppery, grows well in our winter, tolerates shade – what more could you want in a plant.  Oh and did I mention that it equally good in soups and salads.

Herbs – I know its a bit of a cop out grouping them together but if I didn’t mint, parsley and basil would have been 3 of my top 5 and then I could only have had 2 more.  I use herbs in everything but I particularly love the leaves strewn through salads.  I also love salads where they are the ‘hero’ (don’t you hate that use of the word hero – even I find the concept of parsley as a hero absolutely ridiculous….) like my favourite salad, taboulleh.


Loose Leaf Lettuce – Salad Bowl – If I could only grow one loose leaf lettuce it would probably be salad bowl (although I would be upset not to have oakleaf lettuce which I also adore).  I find it reliable, relatively slow to bolt, easy to harvest with a nice mild flavour.

Cos (Romaine) Lettuce – Freckles – I really like Cos lettuce, I find it versatile to make salads with and easy to grow.  My favourite variety is Freckles, a Trout back lettuce which looks great.  The one above is bolting but you can still see its cool freckly leaves.

Radicchio – A little bitter, fabulously pretty and great wilted with a bit of oil, salt and vinegar.  I am relatively new to growing radicchio but I’m really glad I was enthused enough by Marks posts to give it a try.

Which leaves would you not be without?

In a completely different vein entirely The New Goodlife’s Top 5 this week is about the delights of bringing up a 3 year old.

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30 Responses to Top 5: Salad Leaves

  1. Louise says:

    I too love cos type and especially the freckles variety. I always have a lot of rocket and haven not yet tried watercress ( although I have a packet of seeds ready and waiting!).
    I agree with you on the herbs, especially mint and I have the most amazingly strong flavoured oregano that I nearly pick to death. But basically I like anything that gives colour and crunch! Pretty pics of the radichio and freckles.

    • Liz says:

      Freckles is fast becoming my fav. lettuce I have to say. I seem to be the only one who doesn’t grow much rocket – I think I should rectify that though – I forget how useful it can be.

  2. Nina says:

    Rocket! Rocket, rocket and more rocket. If I could only ever have one salad leaf for the rest of my life, rocket would be it.

    Though you’re not playing fair, including herbs. I wouldn’t want to be without them, either.

    • Liz says:

      If I could only have one I think I’d choose a lettuce but I understand why you’d choose rocket, although I have to admit of the peppery leaves I definitely prefer the flavour of watercress.

  3. L says:

    I vote for baby cos, iceberg and wild rocket. I’m a bit boring, aren’t I?
    I really should give watercress a go sometime. I have plenty of shade to work with 🙂

    • Liz says:

      There is nothing boring about any of those, in fact all are fabulous and I’m a bit envious of anyone who can successfully grow iceberg lettuce.

  4. Michelle says:

    Romaine lettuce for sure, it’s the one lettuce that I have the most success with and I love it. If I could coax more butterhead lettuce to survive I wouldn’t be without it. Mache is a huge favorite around here and I’m trying to get it to volunteer around the garden so that I can harvest it all winter long. And arugula, for me, my husband barely tolerates it. If I could get it to volunteer around the garden I would be a happy camper. Is watercress easy to grow? I love it but have never tried to grow my own.

    • Liz says:

      Arugula is rocket isn’t it? The wild (thin leaved) variety volunteers well for me and I think we have roughly similar climates so it might be worth a try. I find watercress really easy in our winter – it dies back by summer and mine self seeds reappearing in May/June.

  5. Sarah says:

    You’ve picked a great top 5, I’d add some rocket, spinach and coriander for a perfect salad mix!

  6. I quite like crisp and crunchy lettuces

    • Liz says:

      I too like crisp and crunchy lettuce – iceberg in particular but I struggle to grow it well – I might have another try this spring though.

  7. Andrea says:

    I enjoy all types of lettuce and plant as many different types as possible, mostly loose leaf types. I love just picking a few leaves from each to make a interesting and colorful salad. Hubby’s favorite are the green and red oak leaf and he will now venture out into the garden to find them when making his salad rolls for lunch.

  8. I’d add a vote for rocket except I can’t seem to get the stuff to grow well at all, but I do love the flavour and versatility of rocket – great in pasta, on top of pizza or as leaves in a salad. Watercress is very quickly moving up the list of things I really should grow, especially as it grows in winter!

    • Liz says:

      I like growing watercress – it does well for me and as a groundcover it smothers the weeds nicely. I somehow forgot rocket – I’ve been growing wild rocket which grows easily for me – perhaps try it, if you haven’t already. It grows best for me in Spring – the summer seems a bit hot for it.

      • Yvonne says:

        I had a few failure attempts to sow rocket seeds since April while in contrast from Spring, it popped out in just 2-3 days. Lucky I still had some mature rocket bush before the cold set in, it does add a nice topping for home made pizza during the winter months. I usually do a success sowing from Spring throughout Autumn as long as you don’t let them grow into too big, they tend to be too bitter from a strong peppery favour.

        I’ve sown some watercress seeds lately and they geminate quite easily in the hot house. I’m glad to see you grow in your garden, I did buy watercress from the Asian shop sometime but tend to let half going off before I could use them all. Can’t wait to add it to pizza to see any differences!

        Coriander seeds after I sprout it in the wet paper towel seem to geminate very easy in the ground despite not much sun. Coriander has always been a success crop to me every time I transplanted it roughly (just bare root and plugged into a tiny hole by a chop stick)

        • Liz says:

          Thats great you are having success with coriander – it gives me hope! Mine is doing well at the moment but as it gets closer to summer it tends to struggle. I love rocket on pizza too – I really must get some seeds sown.

  9. Definitely rocket for me, easy to grow, delicious and I love collecting the seeds – much easier than lettuce seeds! I love eating it with parmesan cheese, thinly sliced pear and lemon juice.

  10. Mark Willis says:

    I vote for Curly Endive – perhaps (when properly blanched) my favourite salad ingredient of all. I would also put Rocket in the top 5.
    My favourite lettuce is “Fristina” a deeply-dissected green one with a very crunchy texture, which responds well to the cut-and-come-again method of harvesting.

  11. Lovely selection, thanks for the reminder to plant watercress! We’ve been planting mixes due to space — how do you manage planting a number of varieties? Are they in pots, in ground, started from seed then planted next to one another?

    • Liz says:

      I plant mixes as well – I start them in seed trays, pot them up and plant them out into the ground (usually although occasionally into pots) as mature seedlings.

  12. becky3086 says:

    Your lettuces all look lovely. I tend to not use a lot of my herbs. I have a couple mints out there just going to waste as we “speak” but I know I will figure out how to use mint eventually even though I don’t like mint…there is that wine recipe, after all, lol.

    • Liz says:

      When I was a kid i can remember sneaking into mum & dads drinks cupboard for a swig of creme de menthe. Not sure i’d touch the stuff now though.

  13. Diana says:

    I feel very ashamed, each month in the cold season we sow lettuce seeds especially the cos type. But I can’t finish it up nor I even don’t eat them. So I usually end up giving a container box with soils of lettuces to friends.

  14. I would like to select lettuce. It is favorite in my area. my family members like to eat it. It is sweet and health.

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