Salad greens 101

Even though the Upper Midwest is full of ‘salads’ that feature a wide range of ingredients from Jell-O to Snickers candy bars, when most people think of salads they conjure images of leafy greens and vegetables tossed in a dressing. The variety of greens from which you can construct a salad is almost limitless, but not all greens are created the same. Writing for The Independent (free registration required), Aaron Hutcherson provides a primer on different types of salad leaves, including how to choose them, how to prep them, and how to store them for their best shelf life.

Radicchio salad with Manchego vinaigrette [Toro Bravo] from Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore

Hutcherson runs through types of lettuces, moves on to chicories (endive and radicchio), and ends with various other greens like spinach, kale, and watercress. As often happens in the world of food, some of the greens have different names in the US vs. UK, giving rise to some confusion. According to The Spruce Eats’ Danilo Alfaro, “What the US (and France) refers to as frisée is in turn called endive in the UK.” Sigh.

After this rundown of the flavor profile for each type of green, Hutcherson turns to selection and storage. I am in agreement with him that a large bowl of cold water is the best vessel to wash lettuce and other leafy greens. I usually let the greens soak for a bit to help refresh them, especially if they have lingered for a few days in the produce bin. It’s amazing how they perk back up after this spa treatment.

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