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Apr 7, 2010 12:54 PM

Don't rip romaine? [moved from General Topics]

I just read an interesting tidbit in Reader's Digest from a book '101 Things I Learned in Culinary School.' It says, "Rip, don't cut salad greens (except romaine)."

The book may go in to more detail, but I was just curious as to this info. I've long heard that it's better not to cut lettuce. Are they implying that you *shouldn't* rip romaine, or just that it doesn't turn brown if you do?

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  1. Lately I've been cutting romaine into a thick chiffonade, I like it that way and besides, it's just hell to try to tear it that way.

    I think it's the high-carbon knife thing that tends to turn the edges dark, but not if you eat it fairly soon.

    1. I always slice romaine. If te heads are very tight, I'll wash the outside, slice them lengthwise in half, and then slice appropriately wide for the salad I'm making. Large heads, or romaine out of the garden (at our house we pick most of our salad greens by the leaf), I'll wash in deep water then spin dry, then stack and slice. Sliced it always seems more uniform and more crunchy to me.

      1. This is slightly OT, but I discovered that if you cut the stem end off romaine and other head lettuces and rest in a bowl of cool water it will perk up like you wouldn't believe, like wilted flowers with the stems cut and plunged into water. Takes a couple of hours, but well worth it.

        1. I suspect they meant to write "iceberg" instead of "romaine."

          Anyway, smaller romaine leaves were traditionally not even cut, but eaten whole.

          10 Replies
            1. re: junescook

              The "they" I was referring to was the authors the OP was quoting - are you one of them? And, if so, could you then explain why romaine was uniquely excepted?

              1. re: Karl S

                I think you'd need to write to Reader's Digest to tell them that they're wrong. I (like EWSf) was telling the OP how I prepare "romaine" and wanted to make that clear vis-a-vis your taking the liberty of correcting us.

                1. re: junescook

                  I wasn't correcting you, I was suspecting that Reader's Digest (or the authors of the book it cribbed) might have meant iceberg (having been an editor in other contexts, I've seen much stranger errors occur). Of all salad greens, it is the one that is least likely to be ripped instead of cut. Sheez.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    Heck, I didn't even know that they were still making iceberg.

                    Thanks for the clarification though.

                    1. re: junescook

                      Iceberg wedge salads made a huge comeback on restaurant menus in the Naughties.

                      While there are applications of iceberg that involve removing individual leaves (as for wraps, or the very old and largely bygone practice of dipping them in sugar to quench summer heat), iceberg is overwhelmingly cut by knife, either to shred or wedge, while romaine is very frequently recommended to be torn for certain salads. Hence my suspicion about an editorial goof-it may have been an editor who likewise forgot iceberg was still being made and confused it for romaine.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Seriously, Karl_S, I really have heard about the steak places doing the wedges with the K Island or the Blue cheese along with the creamed spinach, etc., etc.,. Mke Colomeko mentions some of those in his new book, I think it is actually making a reprise. Nonetheless, We're not growing it in our garden. Are you?

                        1. re: junescook

                          I grow batavia lettuce, which is a parent of iceberg. I like to have lettuce that doesn't bolt in the summer. I have other cool-weather varieties, of course. I like iceberg for certain purposes very much.

                          1. re: junescook

                            Apropos of this discussion, from the NY Times Food section this week:


              2. re: Karl S

                Certainly true in the original Caesar salad.

              3. I dislike the ribs, so I always rip the large romaine leaves when I'm making Caesar salad, and throw the ribs out. Have never had any discoloration or complaints.