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Listed below are the most typical lettuce varieties used in Finnish cooking and in the recipes of this site.

In Finland and the other Nordic countries, many lettuce varieties are nowadays sold year round as "pot lettuce", planted with their roots intact in tiny round pots with soil, an innovation developed in the Nordic countries. Most of these lettuces are grown using hydroponic method and have been commercially produced in Finland since the mid-1980s.

See also:

(Lactuca sativa var. capitata)

Head lettuce, also called cabbage lettuce, form a large, round head with their leaves growing in a dense bunch.

Butterhead lettuce

Butterhead lettuce

Butterhead lettuce is a variety of head lettuce with soft, tender leaves forming a loose, round bunch.

It has a delicate, buttery flavour and is delicious even if served with no other additives than a simple vinaigrette or dressing.

Crisphead lettuce

Iceberg lettuce

Crisphead lettuce is a variety of head lettuce forming a tight head with very crisp leaves.

A popular variety of crisphead lettuce is the iceberg lettuce (in the picture above). It has thick, wilt-resistant leaves, but rather a bland flavour.

Another variety is the more flavourful batavia lettuce, forming a looser head.

(Lactuca sativa var. crispa)

Leaf lettuce do not form a head, but their long, curly leaves grow in a loose bunch.

Leaf lettuce

Leaf lettuce

Leaf lettuce is used in the same way as head lettuce, only its more perishable leaves may wilt and darken quicker.

The colour of the leaves may vary from green to reddish and dark brown, according to the variety.

Ice lettuce

Ice lettuce

Ice lettuce is a cross between crisphead lettuce and leaf lettuce.

Its frilly leaves are crisper and more wilt-resistant than those of regular leaf lettuce and it grows a looser head than crisphead lettuce.

Oak leaf lettuce

Oak leaf lettuce

The leaves of oak leaf lettuce have a shape resembling the leaves of an oak tree. The colour of the leaves varies from green and brownish green to red.

Oak leaf lettuce has a rich, yet not bitter flavour. It looks very decorative and is often combined with other lettuce varieties to bring colour to salads.

Lollo rosso

Lollo rosso

Lollo rosso lettuce has crisp, crinkly leaves with frizzy edges and deep red tinge.

Mild flavoured lollo rosso is often used as a decorative ingredient in green salads.

A green version of this lettuce is called lollo bionda.

Romaine lettuce
(Lactuca sativa var. longifolia)

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce, also called cos lettuce, has long, dark green leaves with a rather coarse texture and thick ribs. It forms an elongated head.

Richly flavoured romaine lettuce is firm and crisp enough to be heated and served in warm salads. It is an essential ingredient in Caesar salad.

Lamb's lettuce
(Valerianella locusta)

Lamb's lettuce

Lamb's lettuce is also called corn salad or mâche. It has small, rounded leaves growing in clusters.

Delicately flavoured lamb's lettuce can be served on its own or mixed with other lettuce varieties. It is often added to mesclun mixtures (see below).

(Eruca sativa)


Arugula, also called rocket or rucola, has green and narrow, dandelion-like leaves with a peppery, nutty flavour, reminiscent of radish.

Arugula can be used mixed in salads or as a flavouring in sauces and pasta dishes.

Mixture of salad greens

Mesclun greens

Mesclun is a mixture of very young salad greens and herbs, a combination of different colours, flavours, leaf shapes and textures. It usually contains different lettuce varieties and young shoots and leaves of wild and/or cultivated plants. These may include arugula, lamb's lettuce, curly chicory, mizuma, groundsel, dandelion leaves, chervil, salsify, purslane, oak leaf lettuce, etc.

Mesclun can be served dressed with vinaigrette, along with goat cheese, croûtons, walnuts, crisp bacon bits, fried chicken livers, etc. Fresh mesclun mixes are sold in well-equipped grocery stores.

(Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion leaves

Although considered a weed, dandelion has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries.

The bitter leaves are mostly used raw in salads, blanched, braised like spinach or added to stews.


The flower buds may be marinated or dipped in batter and deep-fried. The yellow flowers can be used to make wine, mead or jellies and syrups.

Dandelion is usually gathered from the wild, but also cultivated varieties are available.

(Spinacia oleracea)

Spinach leaves

Member of the beet family, spinach is used in salads, soups, sauces, gratins, pancake batters, omelettes, stuffings and purees. Tender-leaved varieties of spinach may be eaten raw in salads, while thick-leaved varieties are mostly cooked, braised, stewed and chopped or pureed.

During cooking, the volume of spinach is greatly reduced, by about three-quarters.

Similarly to rhubarb, spinach contains a high amount of toxic oxalic acid, but also many beneficial nutritional elements, like antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.


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