Rachael Ray Wants To End The 'Snobbery' Over This Lettuce

It's the green that was once labeled "the polyester of lettuces," and among the nation's most esteemed palates, it has few vocal supporters. Alice Waters dismissed the iceberg lettuce, saying that the vegetable "doesn't have a sense of place," while Mimi Sheraton purportedly once tweeted: "Can't find iceberg lettuce for Sam Sifton's recipe in NYTMag? Substitute waxed paper" (via The New Yorker).

If you — like many of us — find yourself wincing at the thought of having no other choice than to have a salad made with iceberg lettuce, celebrity chef Rachel Ray wants us to start changing our mindset. In a clip captured during a recent show and shared over social media, Ray said: "What's with the snobbery about the iceberg? [If] Timberlake can bring back sexy, I'm gonna try and bring back iceberg" (via Twitter).

But it's not that we can be faulted for thinking the way we do about iceberg lettuce.

Undervalued and overlooked

Cultivated in the late 19th century by the W. Atlee Burpee & Company, iceberg lettuce was the go-to salad green for more than 75 years. Because of its dominance, many of us ended up equating "salad" with the seemingly flavorless "iceberg lettuce." That is, until we discovered there were other greens out there that didn't need to be cooked to be consumed. Small wonder, then, that the ubiquitous iceberg took a back seat to its flashier sisters — arugula, mesclun, romaine, and kale (via The New Yorker).

But like Rachel Ray, The New Yorker's Helen Rosner argues that the iceberg lettuce deserves to be brought back in from the cold, simply because it actually tastes better, and can be far more versatile than we make it out to be. When served raw, it can be prepared as a salad in different ways — from cut into wedges to shredded and tossed. Unlike most of its other salad green siblings, icebergs can even be cooked, as Japanese and Cantonese chefs have been known to do. Then there's the fact that a serving of iceberg lettuce packs a respectable nutritional punch; for just 10 calories, you get fiber, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron (via Taste). Given that the iceberg lettuce is a hidden gem, Rachel Ray shouldn't have much trouble getting this particular salad green's sexy back.