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Choosing leafy greens for building a salad

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Building a salad should be art!

Quick Facts…

Lettuce, spinach and other salad greens are an important part of a healthful diet.
Salad greens are year-round sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and other nutrients.
Red and dark green leafy vegetables are generally higher in nutrients than light-colored greens.

Want to learn how to dress these lovely green?  Click here and learn how to make your own salad dressings.

Side Note about fats: Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber. Many of these nutrients (e.g. beta carotene, vitamin D, and vitamin E) are fat soluble and their absorption is enhanced when consumed with a small amount of healthy fats. Add a small amount of healthy oil (e.g. extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil) to the salad dressing or whilst cooking, or include other healthy fat sources such as avocado, coconut, nuts or seeds.

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Arugula [uh-REW-guh-la] 

  • It has a peppery and slightly bitter flavor, arugula is a terrific green to throw into an otherwise boring salad.
  • Leaves are: Dark green and tender
  • Taste is: Bitter and peppery, with a slight mustard taste
  • Use arugula alone to stand up to tangy dressings Lemon Vinaigrette and bold flavors, or mixed with other lettuces as an accent note.
  • Substitutes: watercress or any of the following, tender spinach leaves plus dash of ground pepper, Belgian endive, escarole, young dandelion greens (more bitter), young mustard greens, chicory, radicchio

 

 

 

 

 

Belgian endive = French endive = witloof  = witloof chicory = chicory (in Britain) = Belgium chicory = blanching chicory = Dutch chicory = green-leaved blanching chicory

  • These crunchy, slightly bitter leaves are often used to make hors d’oeuvres, but they can also be chopped and added to salads.
  • Select heads with yellow tips; those with green tips are more bitter.   Their peak season is the late fall and winter.
  • Substitutes: radicchio (similar flavor), arugula, watercress

 

 

 

 

 

Bibb lettuce = limestone lettuce  

  • This butterhead lettuce has delicate, loose leaves and lots of flavor.  The only downside is that it’s usually expensive.
  • Look for fresh, green leaves with no sign of wilting or blemishes. Store refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to three days.
  • Substitutes:Boston lettuce (larger),  leaf lettuce, celery leaves.
  • Properly washed and dried lettuce leaves should be refrigerated wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag. Avoid air-tight containers, or leave slightly open, to prevent humidity build-up. Lettuce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

Boc Choy

  • Bok choy is similar to celery and Swiss chard.
  • Its white stems are mild, juicy and crunchy. Its veined leaves are dark green and milder tasting than those of cabbage.
  • There are many varieties of Bok choy, some with long stems and some with short stems.
  • Look for Bok Choy Chinese cabbage with compact, firm and fresh stems, with no brown spots.
  • Bok choy can replace Swiss chard or spinach in any recipe.
  • Bok choy should be stored in a perforated plastic bag, in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator. Like all other varieties of cabbage, it is preferable to use it as soon as possible after purchase for maximum flavor and crunch. Bok choy should not be washed until you are ready to use it.¸

 

 

 

 

 

Boston lettuce

  • This is a type of butterhead lettuce, with soft, tender leaves.
  • It’s terrific in salads and sandwiches, or the leaves can be used as a bed for other dishes.
  • Leaves are: Loosely formed heads of pale “wrinkled” leaves, smooth buttery texture
  • Taste is: Sweet and mild
  • Substitutes: Bibb lettuce (smaller, more flavorful, and more expensive), leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, celery leaves.
  • Properly washed and dried lettuce leaves should be refrigerated wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag. Avoid air-tight containers, or leave slightly open, to prevent humidity build-up. Lettuce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chard

  • Also known as: Swiss Chard
  • Leaves are: large, deep green, “wrinkled” leaves are always eaten cooked
  • Taste is: similar to beets, while the stalks are somewhat like celery

 

 

 

 

 

Corn salad = mache = lamb’s lettuce = lamb’s tongue = field lettuce = field salad = fetticus 

  • Corn salad has tender leaves and a very mild flavor.
  • Though it looks a little like cress that is where the similarity ends. Lambs’ lettuce is very mild with tender, nutty-tasting leaves that are shaped like tongues and hold together in little clumps.
  • Pairs well with walnuts, pine seeds and apples.
  • Substitutes:butter lettuce, Bibb lettuce
  • Lambs’ lettuce is highly perishable and is best eaten as soon as possible after purchase. To refrigerate, wrap lambs’ lettuce in a paper towel and place in a perforated plastic bag. It will only keep for a day or two

 

 

 

 

 

Dandelions = dandelion greens    

  • Dandelions have a somewhat bitter flavor.
  • Leaves are: tender, flat, with jagged edges.
  • Choose fresh young leaves still attached to the roots.
  • Older dandelion greens should be cooked; younger ones can be cooked or served raw as a salad green.
  • They’re available year-round, but they’re best in the spring.
  • To serve in salads, use sweet vinaigrette with walnut oil or raspberry vinegar.
  • Substitutes:watercress (not as bitter), curly endive, escarole, arugula.
  • In a perforated plastic bag, dandelion will keep for about five days in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

Endive

  • Leaves are: tender and smooth
  • Taste is: mild and bitter. The lighter the endive, the milder the flavor is.
  • They have a great spoon-like shape makes them perfect using as a severing vessel.
  • Wrapped in a damp cloth or plastic bag, endives can be stored for five to seven days in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

Escarole = Batavian endive = Batavia = scarole

  • Escarole has sturdy leaves and a slightly bitter flavor.  Young escarole leaves are tender enough to add to salads, otherwise escarole is best cooked as a side dish or used in soups.
  • Substitutes:curly endive (stronger flavor, different flavor), radicchio, borage, mustard greens, arugula, spinach

 

 

 

 

 

Frisee

  • Leaves are: wide and frilly
  • Taste is: mild. This is a good one to add for “fluff” and texture

 

 

 

 

 

Green-leaf lettuce

  • Substitutes:red-leaf lettuce (different color, but otherwise similar),  bibb lettuce.
  • Properly washed and dried lettuce leaves should be refrigerated wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag. Avoid air-tight containers, or leave slightly open, to prevent humidity build-up. Lettuce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

Iceberg lettuce = head lettuce = cabbage lettuce = crisphead lettuce  

  • This is prized for its crispness and longevity in the refrigerator, but it’s a bit short on flavor and nutrients.   
  • Substitutes: romaine lettuce (also crunchy, and more flavorful), leaf lettuce.
  • Properly washed and dried lettuce leaves should be refrigerated wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag. Avoid air-tight containers, or leave slightly open, to prevent humidity build-up. Lettuce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

Kale

  • Leaves are: broad and ruffled, ranging from deep green to a bluish purple
  • Taste is: very mild, with cabbage undertones

 

 

 

 

 

Lollo rosso

  • This mild, tender lettuce has ruffled red edges.
  • Substitutes:red-leaf lettuce

 

 

 

 

 

Mizuna = Japanese greens = spider mustard

  • Mizuna has tender leaves and a pleasant, peppery flavor.
  • Substitutes:young mustard greens (more pungent), arugula

 

 

 

 

 

Red-leaf lettuce 

  • Substitutes: green-leaf lettuce (different color, but otherwise similar), radicchio (for color).
  • Properly washed and dried lettuce leaves should be refrigerated wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag. Avoid air-tight containers, or leave slightly open, to prevent humidity build-up. Lettuce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

Romaine lettuce

  • Romaine combines good flavor and crunch, plus it has a decent shelf life in the refrigerator.  It’s the preferred green for Caesar salad.
  • Green romaine is the most common variety, but you can sometimes find red romaine, which is more tender.
  • Its crunchy texture can stand up to any dressing
  • Leaves are: long green leaves, with a crunchy center vein.
  • Taste is: bitter and succulent.
  • Substitutes: Boston lettuce.
  • Properly washed and dried lettuce leaves should be refrigerated wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag. Avoid air-tight containers, or leave slightly open, to prevent humidity build-up. Lettuce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

Spinach

  • Leaves are: tender, dark green, and sometimes wrinkled, sometimes smooth
  • Taste is: slightly bitter and somewhat hearty

 

 

 

 

 

Spring salad mix = mesclun = field greens = spring mix

  • This is a mix of different young salad greens.  Commercial mixes usually include arugula, mizuna, tat soi, frisee, oakleaf, red chard, radicchio, mustard greens, and radicchio.Properly washed and dried lettuce leaves should be refrigerated wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag. Avoid air-tight containers, or leave slightly open, to prevent humidity build-up. Lettuce will keep for about one week in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

Watercress

  • Leaves are: small and dark-green on long stems
  • Use cress as soon as possible, removing any yellowed or wilted leaves. Tender stalks and roots are perfectly edible along with the dark green leaves.
  • Taste is: strong and peppery
  • Cress is very fragile and will not keep more than a day or two in the fridge.
  • If sold with its roots wrap a moist paper towel around the roots and place in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for two to three days.
    Without roots, separate and wash cress under very cold water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels and refrigerate in a plastic bag with a paper towel.
    Cress can be stored like asparagus, its stems standing in a jar with a little fresh water. Cress is best eaten as soon as possible after purchase.
    Cress is usually sold in bunches. Choose fresh leaves that are tender and bright green.

 

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3 thoughts on “Choosing leafy greens for building a salad

  1. Hello would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you recommend a good web hosting provider at a honest price? Thank you, I appreciate it!

  2. Sarah says:

    What about mustard greens?

    • amie-sue says:

      And mustard greens! I am sure that there are a tons others that I didn’t capture but thanks for bringing them to the table. :)

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