Ever wonder about the differences between cabbage and lettuce?
Which is more nutritional? Tastier? Easier to grow? Easier to
store? In this cabbage vs. lettuce debate, you no longer need
Cabbage Vs Lettuce: Types
Richard W. VanVranken, of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Atlantic City,
NJ notes that there are many types of lettuces and cabbages.
Nearly all come in either green, red, or variegated colors.
Epicurious.com categorizes lettuces into four types:
- Butterhead – round, but the leaves are looser and have
a smoother texture (Boston, butter, bibb)
- Crisphead – round head is composed of tightly packed leaves
- Romaine – elongated leaves, thick white rib (romaine)
- Looseleaf – loosely gathered, growing as a rosette,
enabling the grower to just remove the leaves rather than
harvest the entire plant (oak-leaf)
Other greens commonly believed to be lettuces, but are not,
include chicories, spinach, watercress, garden cress, and
As for cabbages, they also come in a variety of types:
- Common green
- Common red
- Savoy heads
- Asian cabbages (Napa/Chinese, Bok Choy)
- A variety of loose leaf types — generally called mustards
Cabbage Vs. Lettuce: Nutritional Value
When it comes to nutrition, both cabbage and lettuce have a lot
going for them. However, according to VanVranken, there are a
few differences. VanVranken says, “Both have lots of
phytonutrients, but cabbages have a little more fiber and a
higher content of major vitamins and minerals than
And if you’ve ever heard that the darker the leaves, the more
nutrient-rich the lettuce, that’s true according
They add that “romaine has seven times more vitamin A and C
than iceberg lettuce.”
Like all vegetables, cabbage and lettuce begin to lose their
nutrients as soon as they’re harvested. “Nutrient
degradation starts to occur in your typical head of lettuce
as soon as it’s cut from its roots,” notes Pete Overgaag
Overgaag is excited about his new “living” lettuces that come
with roots still attached. You may have seen them in clear,
clamshell packaging in produce sections. Overgaag says
living greens are more nutrient dense and can remain up
to 18 days in the fridge, lasting longer than the
3-5 day lifespan of your typical head of lettuce. He
says living lettuces are better able to hold onto their
vitamin and mineral counts since the roots maintain freshness
Cabbage Vs. Lettuce: Texture And Taste
One of the most obvious differences in the cabbage vs. lettuce
debate is texture. Then comes taste.
Waters, a groundbreaking chef, built her career on
lettuce. In Chez Panisse
Vegetables she wrote that her most cherished goal was
to offer guests a plain garden salad tossed with a simple oil
and vinegar dressing. It was the early 1970s and it seemed
“almost impossible.” Then came the 1980s with lettuces that
were too tough, strong, or overpowered by spicy tones.
Nowadays, lettuces come in all textures and flavors. Waters
still has her favorites:
- Almost no crispheads (“too bland”), although some romaines
make the cut
- Occasionally butterheads
- Mostly loose-leaf which she calls “delicious,” favoring
variously colored oak-leaf lettuce.
However, her guiding principle is follow the seasons:
- Early spring — loose-leaf lettuces
- Early summer — dandelion greens
- Late Summer — “when they’ve had more time to develop,” she
moves to romaine
- Fall and Winter — “sturdier, more bitter” chicories
Cabbage: Worthy of the most refined preparations
“Cooked-well, cabbage has a wonderful texture and lots of
spicy, sweet flavor,” write Alice Waters in Chez Panisse
Vegetables. Waters defends the much-maligned food
calling it “worthy of the most refined preparations.”
So why the bum deal? Waters suggests that cabbage’s
availability in winter when fewer vegetables can be found and
its ability to be grown almost anywhere gives it a reputation
as a coarse, commonplace food. She begs to differ, noting:
- Cabbage’s sweetness complements the richest of foods
- It’s surprisingly good wrapped around fish, used as a
- Fermented as sauerkraut, it’s “a new vegetable altogether”
- It’s “a treat by itself” when braised, steamed, or
When eaten raw, cabbage has a sweet, spicy flavor and crunchy
texture. Good Mood Kitchen Cookbook author
Korn, notes that cabbage’s thicker, crunchier
texture and stronger flavor are a result of fiber and sulfur
compounds in the leaves.
Those of us who enjoy raw cabbage, might say: but what to do
about the, um, gas? Korn notes that the gas caused by
eating detoxifying sulfur-rich cabbage is normal and actually a
sign of good health; nourishing those incessantly hungry
“psychobiotic” bacteria makes your brain happy and relaxed. To
reduce some of the gas, consider adding gas-reducing spices
like fennel and black pepper.
Cabbage Vs. Lettuce: Keeping And Storing
cabbage tends to last longer than lettuce, because lettuce
contains much more water. Cabbage, when stored correctly in the
fridge, can last up to two months. Of course, the flavor is
better when it’s cooked and consumed fresh.
Lettuce, on the other hand, has a matter of a few days usually
before it turns into a smelly mess in your fridge. Again, when
stored correctly, your lettuce has more of a fighting chance.
Storing For The Best Results
Waters suggests the following gentle storage method for
- Wash leaves in cold water to “perk them up” in hot weather
- Drain and dry in small batches
- Refrigerate clean leaves, layer between towels in an
airtight container or plastic bag
- If needed, use a knife (not your hands) to trim
imperfections or remove leaves from a head
For cabbages she suggests:
- Look for cabbages that are tight, firm, and heavy for their
- Look for cabbages with shiny crisp outer leaves
- Remove loose or wilted leaves
- Rinse in water to remove any dirt
Cabbage Vs. Lettuce: Growing Differences
In terms of growing, VanVranken notes that lettuce requires
cooler temperatures to mature than cabbage. As a result, local
production seasons for lettuce come a little bit earlier in the
spring and later in the fall.
Since cabbage can take a little more heat, but not the peak
temps of summer, they too are typically grown in spring and
fall, just a little later in spring and earlier in fall.
Marcus Mueller notes that lettuce is very
quick-growing and does best in loose, sandy conditions. While
lettuce needs at least 6 hours of sun a day, lettuce generally
does well in shady conditions. Too much sun will dry out the
lettuce, causing it to bolt and go to seed. Therefore, it is
important to keep lettuce rows well watered and protected from
the sun either by a high growing plant such as cucumbers or
covering with a cloth-like mesh. Lettuce grows fastest in warm
weather but tolerates cool temperatures quite well, especially
if grown in a cold frame or greenhouse. This makes lettuce a
great year-round vegetable.
Mueller notes that cabbage can be grown in almost any type of
soil, as long as it is not too acidic. It does best in cool
weather, yet requires a fair amount of sunshine and therefore
is usually grown as a late summer and fall crop. Cabbage is a
heavy feeder and requires a good amount of fertilizer and water
to do well.
Cabbage vs. lettuce: in recipes
No discussion of lettuce is complete without a nod to salads.
Marcus Samuelsson once said, “Salad can get a bad rap.
People think of bland and watery iceberg lettuce, but in fact,
salads are an art form, from the simplest rendition to a
colorful kitchen-sink approach.” We couldn’t agree more. Add to
that the advent of salad restaurants (Sweetgreen, Tossed) as
well as cookbooks dedicated to the ish (Salade), and
the humble salad has finally risen to the status it deserves.
So much more than salad
That said, lettuce is for so much more than salad! For
non-salad recipes try romaine
lettuce which is among the most nutritious lettuces.
Would you swap tacos for lettuce cups? We’re
totally crazy for these chicken cashew lettuce tacos ????
INGREDIENTS For the Chicken Tacos: – 1 lb chicken breast
fillets – Salt and pepper to taste – 1 T extra virgin olive
oil – 1 red bell pepper – 1 cup unsalted cashews – 1 head
butter lettuce For the Sauce: – 4 T coconut aminos – 3 T
raw honey – 2 garlic cloves, minced – 1 t fresh ginger,
grated – 2 t toasted sesame seeds – 1 cup chicken broth – 3
T tapioca flour INSTRUCTIONS 1. Cut the chicken into
bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Next,
thinly slice the red bell pepper. 2. In a medium bowl,
whisk together the coconut aminos, honey, garlic, ginger,
sesame seeds and chicken broth. Set aside. 3. Heat the
extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add
the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes, browning all sides.
4. Add the chicken, bell pepper and sauce to the slow
cooker. Cook on low for 2 hours. 5. Whisk the tapioca flour
with 3 tablespoons of water, add it to the slow cooker
along with the cashews in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
6. To serve, spoon the chicken mixture into individual
butter lettuce leaves and enjoy. – – – – – – #lettucewraps
#chickentacos #chickenwraps #healthytacos #cashewchicken
#grainfree #lettucewraps #paleohacks #paleolunch #nograins
#nogluten #healthylunchideas #glutenfree #celiac #paleo
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Romaine is excellent in smoothies, and as lettuce wraps and
un-wiches. If you’re looking for ideas, check out 8 tasty
non-salad lettuce recipes.
Cabbage: Raw or Not?
When eaten raw, cabbage is sweet, spicy, and crunchy. This
constellation makes cabbage perfect for raw slaws and salads.
There are too many recipes to list here, but some favorite
recipes include Asian
Sweet and Tangy Herbed Cabbage Salad.
If raw cabbage is too gassy for you, Korn
suggests fermenting or steaming. Fermented cabbage,
a.k.a. sauerkraut, is high in nutrients and probiotics.
Terrific for both intestinal and brain health, there are
many easy and inexpensive recipes for making sauerkraut
including this sweet and briny
sauerkraut recipe from Vibrant Wellness Journal.
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