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Little Gem Lettuce Is the New Kale

This leafy green veggie is winning people over, one salad at a time.

The compact hybrid green that has long been a staple in West Coast salad bowls is having a Chicago moment. Credit its slightly sweet—and decidedly un-kale-like—­flavor and crisp, frilly interior leaves. “It’s romaine with a little extra personality,” says John Asbaty, executive chef of 3 Arts Club Café. Monteverde chef-owner Sarah Grueneberg lauds the lettuce as having “the lovely tenderness of green leaf and the softness of Boston Bibb.” In other words, it’s the perfect base for a bounty of toppings. Here are five well-accessorized specimens, sans lettuce.

Gem Lettuce Salad

Gem Lettuce Salad

3 Arts Club Café
$14. 1300 N. Dearborn St.
Photos: Jeff Marini

Ingredients

1. Pickled shallots
2. Green goddess dressing
3. Goat cheese
4. Radishes
5. Lemon zest
6. Herbs

Bite Cafe

Panzanella Salad

Bite Cafe
$10 (brunch). 1039 N. Western Ave.

Ingredients

1. Almonds
2. Green bell peppers
3. Onions
4. Hard-boiled egg
5. Tomatoes
6. Tarragon vinaigrette
7. Carrots
8. Brioche croutons
9. Manchego

Little Gem Lettuce Salad
Our Favorite!

Little Gem Lettuce Salad

The Publican
$10. 837 W. Fulton Market

Ingredients

1. Breadcrumbs
2. Radishes
3. Fennel
4. Basil
5. Crispy pig ear strips
6. Buttermilk vinaigrette

Oma’s Green Mountain Salad

Oma’s Green Mountain Salad

Monteverde
$13. 1020 W. Madison St.

Ingredients

1. Carrots
2. Avocado
3. Herbs
4. Lambrusco vinaigrette
5. Radishes
6. Cucumbers
7. Treviso
8. Tomatoes
9. Celery

Ponderosa Salad

Ponderosa Salad

Parson’s Chicken & Fish
$9. 2952 W. Armitage Ave.

Ingredients

1. Aged cheddar
2. Radishes
3. Tomatoes
4. Poppy seed dressing
5. Onions
6. Bacon

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