Choosing The Best Salad Dressing For Different Types Of Greens

Lettuce isn't given the thought it deserves sometimes, maybe because it's so common in many households. However, all lettuce varietals have their own unique taste, texture, and color. As such, it's important to consider the way salad dressing is chosen for your greens. Salad dressing should enhance the flavor of the lettuce, and complement its texture. The right dressing can become such an integral part of the salad that it takes center stage. 

After all, there's a reason that many common salads call specifically for a certain type of lettuce. Some greens can stand up to more robust dressings while others require a more delicate approach. How the lettuce is actually prepared can also determine the best dressing. Is it torn, cut, or served whole? Is it tossed with multiple ingredients or is the lettuce the star of the show?  Pay attention to the lettuce's attributes and choose the right dressing for a truly stunning salad.

Iceberg? It's cool

Iceberg lettuce is a classic for multiple reasons. After all, a head of the hearty stuff lasts for a long time in the fridge, it is cold and refreshing, and the signature crunch of the lettuce is mandatory in any wedge salad. It plays well with many other flavors and textures. The popular green can handle cherry tomatoes, croutons, grilled steak or chicken, and many kinds of cheese while still holding its own. 

Iceberg's stiff texture and mild flavor also mean that it takes on many dressings well. It is of course at home with creamy, full-flavored dressings like blue cheese and Thousand Island. However, it works equally well with distinct and fragrant flavors like a sesame and ginger dressing. Tangy options like balsamic and apple cider vinaigrette play well off Icebergs's refreshing flavor. And if you serve it with an iconic Italian dressing, you won't be disappointed. 

Lettuce not forget romaine and spinach

Romaine lettuce has a more nuanced texture and flavor. It has a pale green, crunchy core, then radiates out towards darker, more delicate, and earthy leaves. The classic dressing here, of course, is Caesar dressing. The punchy, fragrant, deeply umami notes stand up to the heartier part of romaine. While creamy, the dressing's relative lightness doesn't overwhelm the more delicate leaves. Romaine can also taste divine with the distinct flavors in a Dijon vinegarette or a parmesan dressing. 

Spinach, in contrast, has smaller leaves. Though it has a center stem, it's mostly a thin, flat leaf that retains a toothsome bite. That said, it wilts very easily, so why not embrace this characteristic and toss it in a hot dressing? Yes, really! Hot bacon dressing on spinach salad is a classic for a reason. It's hearty, and savory, and really makes a point of standing out. If, however, you want a fresh, cold spinach salad, stick with a lighter dressing that won't weigh down the delicate leaves. A classic vinaigrette works well, or you can lean on the sweeter side with a smooth poppyseed dressing.