"We are what we repeatedly do."
Selecting and Storing Salad Greens
The best salads start with the best ingredients, and that means fresh, fresh, fresh. No matter
what kind of greens you choose, be sure they aren't wilted, bruised or discolored. Then pick the varieties that suit your salad best.
Here are some tips for storing and handling fresh greens. Remember, it's always best to wash
greens just before you're ready to use them. Store greens in their original wrap or in perforated vegetable or regular plastic bags in the crisper section of your refrigerator.
Romaine and iceberg are longer-lasting lettuces; they'll stay fresh in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Most other greens will wilt after a few days.
If you'll be using iceberg lettuce within a day or two, remove the core by striking
the core end of the head against a flat surface, then twisting the core and lifting it out.
Hold the head, cored end up, under cold running water to wash and separate the leaves.
Turn over and drain, then refrigerate in a perforated vegetable or regular plastic bag or
in a bowl with an airtight lid.
Wait to wash greens until you're ready to use them. Here are a few tips to help you clean
your greens: Wash greens in several changes of cold water, then shake off the excess
Some greens, such as spinach, may be sandy. Be sure to separate the leaves with your
fingers to get all the grit out.
To dry greens, use a salad spinner, toss them in a cloth towel or blot with paper towels.
Follow these tips for serving fresh salads at home or taking them to a
picnic or party:
- Choose a variety of greens to create a medley of complementary textures,
flavors and colors. For little dashes of flavor, add fresh herbs.
- Mix dark greens with light, crisp greens with tender, and straight greens
with curly. Team pale iceberg with dark green spinach, romaine with curly
endive. For color accents, add red leaf lettuce, red cabbage or radicchio.
- Dressing clings much better to dry leaves, so spin washed leaves in a salad
spinner or blot with paper towels to remove any moisture that may be in the
- Greens go limp and the edges darken if you cut them with a knife, so instead of
cutting, tear them into bite-size pieces with your fingers. If you do use a
knife, cut up the greens just before serving or use a serrated plastic salad knife
(sold in the utensils/gadgets section in large department and discount stores).
- Serve salads family style from a large bowl or on individual plates. Give your
artistic flair the go-ahead when making individual servings by arranging the
salad attractively on the plate. Try grouping the ingredients or layering them on
a bed of greens.
- Tomatoes are watery and can dilute the dressing, so wait until just before tossing
the salad to add the slices or wedges. Seeding the tomatoes first will also help.
- Pour dressing over greens just before serving, using only enough to lightly coat the
leaves, then toss. Or serve the dressing on the side so each person can add as much
or as little as desired.
- Salads that have been tossed with dressing don't make good leftovers because the
salad will become soggy and limp.