Lollo Bionda (pale green) and Lollo Rosso (red) are terms used referring to types of fancy lettuce with tight curly leaves, otherwise known as coral lettuce. The leaves are produced loosely in a whole head, are tender in taste, with a slight bitterness.

These very decorative lettuce types add a punch of colour, texture and volume to salads. The curled leaves also have a practical function as they increase the surface area enabling salad dressings to be caught up in the leaf and not to the bottom of your salad bowl.

Recently breeders have selected varieties with smaller leaves that easily separate with just one cut at the base and have become very popular in ready to eat leafy salad mixes.

How to prepare

Usually they're sold as a whole head and some may have the roots still on if grown in hydroponics. Remove any of the older outer leaves, trim off the base (and roots) and wash leaves well. Alternatively, remove as many leaves as you need and keep the rest intact for later.

Put leaves into a salad spinner or wrap up in a towel to get rid of excess moisture. Use whole leaves in rolls and sandwiches or tear the leaves into bite size pieces and use as required.

Buyer's and storage guide

Make sure the head looks fresh, strong and healthy - the leaves shouldn't be wilted. Check the base as well to ensure there is no rots.

Keep heads in an unsealed bag in your refrigerator and it should last for 3-4 days. Any washed loose leaves will keep for a day or two in the fridge.

Serving

  • Create a leafy salad, blend both red and green types for a colourful effect and add your favourite dressing
  • Can be mixed with other lettuce types to vary taste and texture
  • Combines well with fruits segments and vintage cheeses
  • Whole leaves layered on a roll, wrap or sandwich - allow the curly edges to stick out the sides to visually please
  • Enjoy, not only can they add taste and texture, the leaves are very decorative