I make a lot of raw salads with my dinner every week for a few reasons. First of all, they’re easy to make and fun to share. Secondly, they’re healthy and satisfying. And finally, they give me a great outlet to use crunchy mini-head lettuces, a kind of produce I love so much that I’ve planted every inch of my own city garden with them.
Three months into every year, a switch gets flipped on the wet-racks in the produce aisles at Bi-Rite Market 18th Street and Bi-Rite Market Divisadero. Farm Direct and Organic Spring baby head lettuces, like Little Gems, become the highlight of the wet-racks and open up a range of new options for hungry and imaginative salad-crafters. These beauties liven up our produce sections, and we love to sample and share their baby lettuce leaves with our guests to help you appreciate how buttery-smooth and satisfyingly crunchy they are.
Because baby or mini-head lettuce varieties like Little Gems make such great-tasting and gorgeous salads, we make sure to bring in a large variety as soon as they come into season. This gives our guests a range of options and showcases how many unique lettuce varieties farmers are growing these days – from Breen to Mottistone to Australe to Speckles and, of course, to Little Gem. Young, energetic farmers like Teresa Kurtak and Mike Irving from Fifth Crow Farm in Pescadero, CA grow beautiful Little Gem hearts and really have the mini-head lettuce situation dialed in. They plant round after round of small starters every week and start harvesting about thirty to forty days later. Next time you’re in one of our produce sections, keep an eye out for the beautiful produce grown by Teresa and Mike; they’re perfectionist farmers and their hard work and dedication really shows in the beautiful products they supply to us.
Mini-lettuces have to be picked at the proper time to allow for maximum crunch. Look for heads that are super fresh and have deep and intense colors of red and green. Some varieties, like Little Gem, should be dense and feel heavy for their size. On the other hand, Mottistone and Breen can be a tad leafy and can add amazing color to a dish. To add a personal touch to your next salad bowl, try mixing different varieties of mini lettuces to build your own salad mix base. Then add your personal favorites, such as avocado, radishes, beets or carrots. You’ll love how fun, healthy and satisfying these greens and salads can be. But you don’t have to take my word for it – stop by our Markets for a taste and let this beautiful produce speak for itself. Happy Spring!