Culinary Arts

What Is Romaine Lettuce? Plus the Best Romaine Caesar Salad Recipe

Written by MasterClass

May 28, 2019 • 3 min read

Refreshingly crisp as a base in everyday salads and sturdy enough to hold up to heat for grilling or sautéeing—romaine is one of the most versatile types of lettuce. The long green leaves are widely desired for their ability to stay crunchy in a salad without quickly wilting.

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What Is Romaine Lettuce?

Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a type of head lettuce that is typically deep green with elongated leaves. Known for its mild flavor and crisp texture, it has sturdy leaves that make it more tolerant to heat than other lettuce varieties. It is most commonly used as salad greens, although it can also be grilled and sautéed. In recent years, romaine has become a grilling staple along with other vegetables.

In North America, romaine is often sold as “hearts” that have the outer leaves removed for convenience. The majority of leaf lettuce in the United States is grown in California, but because of a E. coli outbreaks, romaine lettuce now also comes from winter growing regions, such as the Imperial Valley region of California, desert region of Arizona in and around Yuma, and Florida.

Health Benefits of Romaine Lettuce

Romaine is a heart-healthy green leaf with vitamin C and beta-carotene working together to prevent cholesterol build-up. Romaine is also a rich source of folic acid (b vitamin) and potassium, which may be useful in lowering high blood pressure.

According to the USDA, one cup of shredded romaine lettuce has only 8 calories, making it an ideal low calorie food. Healthcare professionals recommend adding leafy greens to a daily diet to add healthful minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

How to Prep Romaine Lettuce in 6 Steps

  1. Remove any wilted or discolored leaves.
  2. Rinse the romaine under cold running water, separating the leaves gently with fingers to allow water to flow in between.
  3. Dry off any excess moisture with paper towels and place on a cutting board.
  4. Using a sharp knife, trim away the root end, while leaving enough to hold the leaves together. It’s now ready to use whole, quartered, or chopped.
  5. Cut across the leaves at two-inch intervals, making bite-sized pieces.
  6. Leftover greens can be wrapped in moist paper towels, and refrigerated in a plastic bag.

9 Romaine Lettuce Recipe Ideas

  1. Nicoise salad. A classic French salad packed with romaine, potatoes, green beans, olives, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and cucumbers in a vinaigrette.
  2. Chopped Greek Salad. Chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, red onions, fresh parsley, and feta cheese with a red wine vinaigrette.
  3. Chinese Chicken Salad. Shredded romaine, red cabbage, carrots, chicken, green onions, almonds, and mandarin oranges with a ginger dressing.
  4. California Shrimp and Avocado Salad. Chili-lime grilled shrimp with creamy avocado slices, romaine, and lime dressing.
  5. Mediterranean Falafel Lettuce Wraps. Baked falafel with baby tomatoes, red onions, and tahini sauce, wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves.
  6. Vietnamese Seared Steak Lettuce Wraps. Grilled flank steak served with cucumber-ginger sauce. Wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves and finished with roasted peanuts and mint leaves.
  7. Grilled Head of Romaine. Hearts of romaine lettuce, brushed with an herb vinaigrette, then grilled, cut side down. Serve whole or chopped and combined into a salad.
  8. Sausage-Stuffed Romaine. Sautéed sausage with a spiced herbed rice mixture, filled and rolled into blanched romaine leaves.
  9. Beef and Romaine Stir-Fry. Short ribs marinated in a soy and vinegar mixture, then stir-fried with ginger, scallions, and romaine.
Caesar salad in white bowl with wood background

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Romaine Caesar Salad Recipe

Makes
6
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
  • 2 cups torn 1-inch pieces of torn stale bread (baguette or country loaf is preferred)
  • 4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 romaine hearts, cut into 2 -inch pieces (or 6 heads baby romaine, leaves picked)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bread onto a baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake until golden, 10-12 minutes.
  2. Using a chef’s knife, chop together the anchovy and garlic, with a pinch of salt. Continue chopping until fine, then use the side of the blade to mash into a paste. Add to a large bowl.
  3. Whisk in the egg yolks, lemon juice, and mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and vegetable oil until emulsified. Whisk in Parmesan, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Gently toss the lettuce, croutons, and dressing. Finish romaine salad with more Parmesan cheese.

Learn more culinary techniques in Chef Thomas Keller’s MasterClass.