Cooking With Heirloom Greens

You probably already know how to incorporate greens like arugula, romaine and kale into your dinner repertoire….but what about tatsoi, red sails, even deer tongue? Our Salad Seed Kits feature some unusual greens—many of them heirloom varieties—you may not be as familiar with, since they’re not widely available in supermarkets (all the more reason to grow them in your indoor garden!).  

Let’s get to know these greens and how to use them to spice up your weekly menu!  

Black Seeded Simpson

Compare it to: Green Leaf Lettuce

This 150-year old heirloom lettuce is sweet and delicate, and features distinctively crimped and curled leaves. Use it in any salad that calls for a sweet, tender lettuce, or wilt it and top with bacon and a sweet vinaigrette.   


Compare it to: Spinach

This member of the brassica family (a relation of mustard greens and Brussels sprouts), has rounded leaves, a buttery texture, and a slightly sweet flavor. Use it just like you would spinach—either raw or lightly steamed or sauteed. You can even add it to a soup at the end of cooking.


Compare it to: Frisee or arugula 

Another member of the brassica family, these leaves are peppery like arugula and slightly bitter like frisee—just a bit milder and sweeter. Try replacing frisee with mizuna in a mixed greens salad, or incorporate it into Asian dishes like stir fry. Just pair with your favorite vegetables, lots of garlic and ginger, and your protein of choice. When cooked, mizuna retains its juiciness and absorbs flavor well; try it with a bit of ponzu or lemon, both of which complement the slight bitterness of the leaves.

Deer Tongue

Compare it to: Butter lettuce

This heirloom lettuce variety has been around since the mid-18th century, but its fragile leaves are too delicate to make it all the way from farm to grocery store shelves. Its tender texture and sharp flavor add interest to salads, sandwiches or even a fresh summer panzanella.   

Parris Island

Compare it to: Romaine Lettuce

This romaine variety was named after a small island off South Carolina, and was first introduced in 1952. Parris Island leaves are tender and succulent, with mild flavor. Harvest the outer leaves and use as you would any romaine—in a Caesar salad, or as a crunchy addition to sandwiches.  

Red Sails 

Compare it to: Red Leaf Lettuce 

Similar to traditional red leaf lettuce, this mild, sweet lettuce produces crinkly leaves with a bronze-red color. And it’s packed with vitamins A and C—several times more than you’ll find in red leaf lettuce at the grocery store. Use it as a base green for salads.

Rouge D’Hiver 

Compare it to: Romaine Lettuce

This beautiful 1800s European heirloom romaine lettuce has flat, broad leaves with a sweet, buttery texture. The color of the leaves vary from green to bronze to deep red. The leaves’ sturdy structure retains its crispness even when dressed, and is ideal for weightier salad ingredients like beets, squash, fruits, and nuts.

Ready to put your new greens to use? 

Try a simple mixed greens salad featuring Black Seeded Simpson, Red Sails, and Deer Tongue Lettuces. Top with veggies, proteins, and nuts/seeds of choice, then finish with your favorite herby vinaigrette (learn how to make your own). 

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