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They’re perfect produce packaging. It’s impossible to imagine one without the other. It’s also impossible to ignore the fun in fact-checking our favorite foods. Let’s take a look at the differences between romaine hearts vs. leaves.
Hearts or Leaves? Do You Need to Choose?
When it comes down to romaine hearts vs. leaves, how do you choose sides? We prefer to cheer on both because they combine to deliver the best of two lettuce types. Romaine offers both the nutritional value of leafy lettuces and the juicy crispness of head lettuces.
As you consider tender romaine hearts and their flavorful outer leaves, these five food facts carry significant weight.
1. How They’re Different
The obvious difference between hearts and leaves comes clearly into view when you peel open a head of romaine. The outer wrapping sports a rich, dark green color while the inner core reflects softer, paler shades. This contrast may be the source of some nutritional confusion.
The color of romaine’s components doesn’t affect the levels of healthy goodness served up by either hearts or leaves. It’s simply the result of California sunshine. Outer leaves enjoy more exposure, and that increases chlorophyll production while the hearts remain a unique, pale shade of green.
2. How They’re Alike
Romaine hearts and leaves boast the same impressive nutritional profile. The popular lettuce scores very high marks per 1-cup serving with 8 calories and a full gram of dietary fiber. It’s an appetizing source of vitamins A, C and K as well as protein, iron and calcium.
If you’re designing a healthy diet around veggies that deliver plenty of natural goodness, romaine lettuce belongs at the top of your grocery list. If you’re developing a restaurant menu that showcases guest-pleasing, veggie-centric choices, this premium produce serves up delicious versatility.
3. Caesars Love Hearts
Julia Child often shared a wonderful story about her first Caesar salad and how she enjoyed it with her family at a Tijuana restaurant. Her brief and delightful memoir seems to confirm the origins of this classic dish that still centers around pale, slightly sweet hearts of romaine lettuce.
In the nearly 60 years since then, that simple salad has become world-famous and still wows admiring appetites at home dinners and restaurant tables. The Caesar maintains its classic status by lending itself to irresistible versions of the original. That’s a quality we always admire in food stars.
4. Leaves Serve With Style
Crisp texture and a rich green color make romaine leaves natural ingredients for all kinds of dishes. Apply artful knife skills, and leaves become a stylish addition to veggie sides or a garnish for sophisticated plates. Stack, roll and slice a romaine chiffonade to shower over your next entree salad.
Root to stem cooking also inspires home and professional chefs to incorporate the simple romaine leaf into different recipes. This trend is finally becoming a menu regular embracing the entire head of lettuce, and that’s a culinary attitude we’re very happy to endorse.
5. They Work Together So Well
Hearts will always be the centers of Caesar salads. We appreciate the tasty touches romaine leaves bring to a plate. Keep hearts and leaves together, and this versatile vegetable bridges cultural and national borders.
There aren’t many other lettuces that boldly take the heat in a kitchen like a hearty head of romaine. Rinsed, drained and chopped, leaves and hearts can pan fry or slow roast. Slice a head in half, braise it with bacon and mustard, and celebrate how a whole head of lettuce can sometimes be greater than the sum of its parts.
We Applaud Both
We hope you’ve enjoyed this light-hearted take on learning more about romaine lettuce. It’s our goal to inform and educate both food service professionals and consumers. It’s our hope that we can be a little entertaining too.
As a leader among California produce growers, we firmly support both romaine hearts and leaves. We applaud their place in our commercial walk-ins and home refrigerators. You can always trust us here at Hitchcock Farms to keep you supplied with a winning variety of vegetables straight from our fields to your tables.