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Brunia lettuce is medium to large in size with leaves averaging 10-25 centimeters in diameter and has a compact, rosette shape. The leaves are long, thin, slender, crisp, and deeply cut in a distinct notched oak leaf shape with many lobes. The base of the leaf is smooth and pale green, transitioning to hues of purple, bronze, or red on the tips of the curled lobes. Brunia lettuce is firm and crunchy with a tender and succulent texture and has a mild, sweet flavor with a hint of tangy zest.
Brunia lettuce is available in the winter through spring.
Brunia lettuce, botanically classified as Lactuca sativa, is an annual, loose-leaf French variety that is a member of the Asteraceae family. Also known as Bronze Oakleaf and Old Bronze Oakleaf, Brunia lettuce is an easy to grow, cut-and-come-again variety, allowing for multiple harvests of heads that can reach over 15-30 centimeters in height. Brunia lettuce is popular among home gardeners for its adaptability and can be planted in containers, raised beds, or grown hydroponically with little attention until harvest. Brunia lettuce can be used in a variety of culinary applications and is favored for its crisp, tender consistency.
Brunia lettuce contains vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and some potassium, iron, and copper. It also contains anthocyanins, which have substantial anti-inflammatory properties.
Brunia lettuce is best suited for raw applications as its texture, and subtle flavors are a perfect canvas for savory, bright, fruity, and bold companion ingredients. Brunia lettuce readily soaks up flavors, cuts the richness of fat, and holds sauces and juices within its leaves. It can be utilized as the principle ingredient within a simple salad, layered in sandwiches, used in wraps, incorporated into fresh spring rolls, or used as a base for cooked fish. The leaves can also be used as a curled, decorative garnish. Brunia lettuce pairs well with shallots, blue cheese, tomatoes, apples, pears, peaches, melon, walnuts, bacon, poultry, fish such as salmon, basil, mint, dill, honey, vinaigrettes, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and dried fruits. It is recommended to use the leaves immediately, and they will only keep 2-3 days when stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Brunia lettuce is most often featured in its young tender form in baby green mixes. It is picked, washed, and packaged for its bright flavor when young and is combined with other baby greens with different flavors to create a flavorful mix. Brunia lettuce is also an excellent companion vegetable in home gardens to squash, onions, strawberries, cucumbers, celery, carrots, and beets. These relationships allow gardens to flourish, producing a healthier, more robust crop.
Brunia lettuce is an heirloom variety native to France and was first introduced to the public via the famous seed catalog, Vilmorin. Today it is widespread and available at farmers markets, supermarkets, and specialty grocers in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Recipes that include Brunia Lettuce. One is easiest, three is harder.