A New Nutrient-Dense Lettuce Combines the Crispness of Romaine with the Flavor of Spinach

‘Spinach Lettuce’ comes from a multi-year collaboration between chef Dan Barber and lettuce breeder Bill Waycott.

<p>Row 7 Seed Company</p>

Row 7 Seed Company

Salad lovers may no longer need to choose between spinach and romaine.

Spinach Lettuce, a new hybrid between the two greens, combines the beloved crispness of romaine with the dense vitamin content of spinach, producing a bitter green leaf packed with phytonutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids, and vitamin K.

Grown in partnership with Norwich Meadows Farms, which is based in upstate New York, Spinach Lettuce is the result of a multi-year collaboration between lettuce breeder Bill Waycott and chef Dan Barber, founder of Row 7 Seed Company. On the balmy morning of May 31, New Yorkers sampled the leaves of the new plant at Manhattan’s Union Square Market.

“Several years ago, I visited [Waycott] in California’s Salinas Valley, the lettuce capital of the world,” said Barber. “After years of working for Monsanto and breeding varieties that could be shipped all over the country, he grew disillusioned by the industry’s trend toward uniformity and shelf life — at the expense of most everything else. Bill knew there was a better way to create a salad green, and set out on his own to bring more nutrition and flavor to everyday lettuce.”

<p>Row 7 Seed Company</p> Spinach Lettuce is crunchy like romaine but has the complex, bitter flavor of spinach.

Row 7 Seed Company

Spinach Lettuce is crunchy like romaine but has the complex, bitter flavor of spinach.

Over several seasons, Row 7 and Waycott collaborated on leaf types, head shapes, textures, and flavors for the new lettuce. Once the produce had Waycott and Barber’s approval, they tested the Spinach Lettuce with a trial network of growers and chefs, who could share feedback on growth and kitchen results.

Similar in appearance to a head of spinach, Spinach Lettuce has broad, deeply green, tender leaves. Its deep root system offers a nutritional advantage, as the roots can mine for nutrients in the soil.

Related: 25 Green Salads to Serve with Any Meal

“The more we pursue this work, the more we understand that flavor and nutrition often go hand in hand,” says Barber. “Spinach Lettuce is the perfect example. Our nutritional analyses show that it is three times as nutritious as organic romaine. But, just as exciting is its depth of flavor — succulent and multi-layered, pleasantly bitter, and deeply delicious — it’s so much more than a vessel for salad dressing.”

Ideally, Barber suggests preparing Spinach Lettuce just as you would romaine. Try it raw in salads, grilled, or even lightly cooked.

Organic Spinach Lettuce heads will be distributed on the East Coast through Baldor Specialty Foods. Spinach Lettuce seeds will be available later this year on row7seeds.com.

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