Lollo Rosso is a variety of lettuce with purple to red edges in most of its ruffled leaves. It is a non-hearting, loose-leaf lettuce, with a fairly tender yet crisp texture. Lollo Rosso contains the antioxidant quercetin, which is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease, says the British Leafy Salads Association. The name Lollo Rosso is allegedly a reference to the 1960s Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, also known as La Lollo, and her frothy underwear.
Lollo Rosso and all other varieties of lettuce are easy to cultivate. Lollo Rosso can grow in a wide range of soils, but those well-drained, rich in organic matter and with a slightly acidic pH of about 6.0 are the best. Lollo Rosso can grow 10 inches wide and 6 inches high. The sowing time ranges from March to October, and it takes 55 days from seed to maturity. After being cut, the leaves of Lollo Rosso can grow again.
Lollo Rosso is widely used in salad recipes, on its own or mixed with other vegetables and lettuce varieties. Lollo Rosso is not only used for its characteristic crispness, but also to create a visual effect, due to its purple leaves. Unlike other red leafy vegetables, such as the bitter radicchio, Lollo Rosso can add colour to a salad without adding bitterness.
Lollo Rosso contains chemical compounds called anthocyanins and flavonoids. Quercetin is an important flavonoid found in Lollo Rosso in great concentrations. Lollo Rosso outer leaves contain about 27 mg of quercetin per kg, while other varieties of lettuce contain much less. Round lettuce, for instance, contains 11 mg of the compound per kg, while iceberg lettuce has only 2 mg per kg. Quercetin has shown anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antihistamine properties during laboratory studies.
Like other lettuce varieties, Lollo Rosso has no fat and poor protein content. It provides 2g of carbohydrates and 20 calories to every 100g. However, Lollo Rosso and other dark leaf lettuce varieties are rich in Vitamin A, folate, Vitamin C, and vitamins B1 and B2. Lollo Rosso is also an excellent source of fibre and minerals such as iron, molybdenum, phosphorus and potassium.