Help me shop for Romaine lettuce
Should I buy Romaine by the head, or by the hearts??? When I buy it by the head (is it a head or is that just iceberg that you buy by the head!!) there are all those outer darker, grittier, green leaves which I end up peeling away and tossing into the trash. Are these outer leaves edible??
Nowadays, I see more and more of those 3-packs of Romaine hearts- They are packed so tightly in the bag, that I end up destroying the other 2 hearts, just trying to get the first one out!!!
The other dilemna is that I can't eat 3 hearts in one sitting, unless I want to invite the whole neighborhood over for a super caesar spectacular!!! I find that the other hearts start turning to rust in about a day once the package is opened....
Your shopping and storage tips are appreciated
The three-heart packages are perfect for us, I think they actually keep better than the large whole head of romaine usually sold unwrapped and I don't like the toughness of the large single head.
I agree that sometimes it is hard to get one of the hearts out the package when they're tightly packed; I find if I kind of wiggle one or two out a little bit at a time, back and forth, maybe even folding the bag over itself to the outside, until about half of the height is out of the bag I can then grasp and pull out of the bag one or two hearts.
As far as buying, look for packages with no rust visible on the outside, and fresh-looking tips on the visible leaves. I usually have a package for a week or two which stays fresh before it's used up.
And I prepare two hearts at once for storage: separate the leaves of two hearts, rinse them well under running water, place in a colander vertically, stem side down, to drain as you continue washing each leaf. Then place about a four-foot long length of high quality paper towel on top of a kitchen towel on the counter, and lay out the leaves one-by-one, side-by-side across the length of paper towel. I alternate the stem end each leaf to maximize the space. Leave about four inches of towel free on each end, and starting on one end, gently roll the paper towel back over the leaves, creating a roll of the romaine, leaving the kitchen towel on the counter. Place this roll in a plastic bag - I use the ones I put produce into at the grocery store, gently squeeze out the air and store in the crisper. Prepared this way the romaine stays crisp and ready to eat for over a week, if it lasts that long. When I have to prepare the third heart it's time to buy a new package!
If you are looking for another easy way to use the romaine and give it a different taste then try this trick. Cut the hearts in half vertically and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Put on BBQ or grill pan for 2 or 3 minutes on each side and you have a yummy and easy warm salad- I add some parm. cheese when done. It gives the romaine a different taste and makes eating lettuce everyday more interesting.
I buy a 5 pack of the hearts at Costco and find they last well over a week. The package does have a zipper top which keeps them fresher. Otherwise I wrap in paper towel and put in ziplocks like BobB does.
Your best bet for storage is to take them out of the original package, wrap each head well in paper towels, and rebag in a ziplock-type bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. They should keep for up to a couple of weeks like that. As for the dark outer leaves, once they're washed they're OK to eat, though I usually trim off the friable tops for aesthetic reasons.
I buy the 3 packs but I have a large salad for lunch everyday. I usually use one head per lunch but if they are extra large I might get 4 lunches out of a 3 pack. Romaine keeps very well and should last the week. I can usually get one head out of the package but that's when they are on the small side. Just cut the bag open and put the other two in a new bag. I'm surprised your turn rusty so quickly. Sometimes mine get some slimy areas on a couple of outer leaves so I just throw out the offending leaves. I never buy iceberg lettuce. I think romaine has a better flavor and keeps better. A long time ago I was told that you if you cut lettuce with a nice the lettuce gets rusty ... which I think iceberg will do. Break off what you need. Then you can slice up what you are going to use with a knife.