Romaine lovers, romaine calm. Even with the nationwide outbreak of E. coli linked to your favorite kind of lettuce, there are still ways to enjoy a delicious and crunchy salad. The current outbreak, as of the Food and Drug Administration’s most recent update, has affected 53 people in 16 states. The organization will continue to investigate the source of the germs, noting that all affected lettuce seems to be sourced from the Yuma region of Arizona.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation? Avoid all romaine lettuce, unless you can be absolutely sure that it wasn’t sourced from Yuma, Arizona. As noted in the Washington Post, the specific source of the E. coli remains a mystery.
Cue nationwide disappointment. If you’re craving a crunchy Caesar, you’re out of luck. Or so it would seem. But we have a few tips for you to mimic the crunch of romaine lettuce in your homemade salads — and an update on which chains are serving safe batches of the stuff.
Firstly, it’s important you know that romaine lettuce is not the only option for a crunchy, crisp salad. We know — you don’t want to resort to ghastly spinach or worse, kale. You don’t care how often people tell you that limp, dark leafy greens are better for you. You crave the crunch.
You could try replacing romaine with butter lettuce. The leaves are larger, but if you’re shredding them before tossing with dressing it doesn’t much matter.
Iceberg lettuce is another common crisp option. It’s most often used as the base of a wedge salad, but there’s no reason you can’t improvise and toss it in a bowl.
Green and red leaf lettuces are your other two viable options; though some people report these leaves taste bitterer than your usual romaine.
If you can’t refrain from ordering romaine until the outbreak is over, there are chains that have confirmed their lettuce is safe.
Just Salad released a statement on April 22 claiming, “Our Romaine in all markets is grown in California, where there have not been any reports of contaminated lettuce. Please rest assured that our romaine is safe to consume.” For their customers who continue to be wary, Just Salad is introducing iceberg lettuce to the menu.
Chipotle also claims their lettuce is safe to consume and unaffected by the outbreak. “Neither Chipotle nor our produce suppliers have been contacted regarding any connection to this issue,” Chris Arnold, representative for Chipotle, told The Daily Meal.
If you’re especially frightened of becoming a statistic in the nationwide tally of those sickened, you could always just give salad a break. There are lots of recipes that aren’t salad that are still filled with vegetables.