How healthy is lamb’s lettuce?

Lamb’s lettuce can be found in every supermarket, especially in autumn and winter. While other salads have to be imported from southern climes during the cold season, lamb’s lettuce also grows on local fields as a  winter vegetable  . This ensures affordable prices, although the lettuce still has to be harvested by hand. But there are other reasons to use it more often, because lamb’s lettuce is also popular because of its health effects. What exactly is the effect, when can eating lamb’s lettuce be harmful to health and how do you prepare the salad?

Is lamb’s lettuce healthy?

In principle, every salad is healthy – including lamb’s lettuce. But what’s so healthy about lamb’s lettuce?

With provitamin A,  vitamin C  and  folic acid  , it contains important vitamins. It also provides the body with  protein  and minerals such as:

But that’s not all: lamb’s lettuce is also a good vegetable source of  iodine  and therefore particularly important for everyone who does not regularly eat fish – such as vegetarians.

In addition to these valuable ingredients, the green leafy vegetables also score with extremely few calories: only  18 kilocalories  (75 kilojoules) per 100 grams are in lamb’s lettuce, which means that it also fits well into a diet plan.

Oxalic acid as a calcium robber

However, it is not advisable to give lamb’s lettuce too much of a place in the diet: the proportion of oxalic acid, which can be problematic for the kidneys, should not be underestimated. Excessive consumption of the acid can also damage bones and teeth by binding calcium in the body. It also makes it difficult for the intestines to absorb iron.

People with kidney disease are therefore advised not to eat the lettuce, as are people with  osteoporosis .  Oxalic acid should also be avoided in the case of arthritis, rheumatism and  gout and it is therefore better to avoid lamb’s lettuce.

Nitrate in lamb’s lettuce

In addition, a partially increased concentration of nitrate is measured in lamb’s lettuce, which the lettuce – like  spinachrhubarb  and many other types of vegetables – absorbs from the soil during cultivation. While nitrate itself is not toxic, it is a precursor to the carcinogenic nitrosamines that may be formed during processing or digestion.

That’s why you shouldn’t do without lamb’s lettuce – on the contrary, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment recommends that adults should not limit their consumption of nitrate-containing vegetables, but above all pay attention to a varied selection of vegetables. However, caution should be exercised in young children due to potential health risks related to foods containing nitrates.

As is so often the case, the proverbial “healthy mediocrity” applies. So the body gets many  nutrients that contribute to health and well-being. By the way, organic field lettuce usually has the lowest nitrate content. This is because, on the one hand, fertilizers containing nitrate are forbidden in organic farming. On the other hand, the supply of fresh air and increased solar radiation reduce the nitrate content in vegetables.

Prepare lamb’s lettuce properly

Since lamb’s lettuce is not a compact head of lettuce, but many small clumps, preparing it is a little more work than with other types of lettuce. If you simply washed it and put it directly into the salad bowl, it would probably result in an unpleasant crunch. Because the lettuce is picked with the roots, which are usually very sandy. In addition, the lowest parts of the tufts don’t taste very good.

Therefore, you have to clean the lettuce extensively before washing. The roots can be easily cut off with a small kitchen knife. It is important to ensure that the ends of the leaves are still held together.

When washing in cold water afterwards, any remaining sand and soil can be easily removed. Do not wash the lettuce under running water as it is very delicate.

Now the lettuce must be dried thoroughly, which works best with a salad spinner. If you don’t have a salad spinner at hand, you can alternatively dab the lettuce carefully with some kitchen paper. However, if lamb’s lettuce is processed when it is too wet, its leaves will collapse very quickly. In addition, the salad dressing sticks much better to dry lettuce.

What goes with lamb’s lettuce?

With its slightly nutty taste, lamb’s lettuce is a light starter or a perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of dishes. It can be prepared sweet or savory and offers so many different options that even some salad haters can get enthusiastic about the often spurned “rabbit food”.

Here we have put together four ideas for  recipes with lamb’s lettuce  :

  1. Lamb’s lettuce with honey-mustard dressing:  A honey-mustard sauce is not only the perfect accompaniment for numerous fish dishes, but also goes well with lamb’s lettuce. The  dressing  goes well with goat cheese.
  2. Lamb’s lettuce with pomegranate:  Dark fruits harmonize wonderfully with  nuts . Anyone who knows this won’t be surprised at the combination of lamb’s lettuce and pomegranate. Especially with dishes with game or other dark meat, this salad not only brings freshness to the plate, but also a touch of the exotic. The pomegranate seeds in the lamb’s lettuce ensure a special taste experience.
  3. Lamb’s lettuce with walnuts:  This simple recipe goes perfectly with a varied cheese platter. A popular addition to this salad combo is  figs  or pears. This is served with baguette or ciabatta – and you’ve got yourself a great party snack.
  4. Lamb’s lettuce with bacon:  A small ingredient that makes a big difference: the addition of fried bacon gives the salad a really hearty, spicy note. It can even become a complete meal that is tasty and healthy.

Calculate about 50 to 75 grams of lamb’s lettuce per person as a side dish.

Lamb’s lettuce in green smoothies

 Lamb’s lettuce is also very good in a  smoothie , with a handful of lettuce leaves per person and glass being sufficient. Such green smoothies have long outstripped the “classic” version with sweet fruits in terms of popularity. In its “green” form, the smoothie is an even richer source of vitamins and nutrients.

storage and durability

The best time to buy lamb’s lettuce is when it  ‘s in season  : between October and February – but outdoor lettuce is at its crunchier before the first frost. As soon as you buy it, you can guess that lamb’s lettuce is a diva among vegetables. Because if it came to the shops without roots, it would make a very sad impression there with withered, fallen leaves.

But even so, the lettuce is not one of the most storable representatives of its category. If it hasn’t been washed and cleaned yet, lamb’s lettuce will keep for a few days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. But even there it quickly loses its firmness and aroma. For storage, it should be wrapped in a damp kitchen towel. Then it stays fresh for a little longer. In any case, it is advisable to remove the purchased salad from the package, otherwise it will quickly begin to rot.

It is best, however, to prepare lamb’s lettuce as freshly as possible and to consume it quickly. The salad tastes best if the dressing is added immediately before consumption.

Lamb’s lettuce: interesting facts about the plant

Lamb’s lettuce forms its own plant genus, which is also known by the Latin name “Valerianella”. For a long time, little attention was paid to the lamb’s lettuce plant: small and inconspicuous, wild lamb’s lettuce still grows along the roadsides in North Africa and the Balkans, where it looks like weeds. Indeed, its adaptability to a wide range of climatic conditions is something it shares with weeds, as the small lettuce is hardy.

In contrast to weeds, lamb’s lettuce is also so popular in Central Europe that it has been given many different names in the German-speaking area alone. Depending on the region, one speaks of, for example:

  • lamb’s lettuce
  • Rapunzelsalat
  • Vogerlsalat
  • Rebkresse
  • mouse tube salad
  • lard weed
  • Genealogy

Since it is a member of the valerian family, the leaves contain a lot of  essential valerian oil.  This is not only responsible for the slightly nutty taste of the lamb’s lettuce, but is also good for the veins and has a calming effect – although it can trigger an allergy  in some people  .

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