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A simple guide to greens

Not feeling adventurous when it comes to picking out salad greens? Here’s a taste guide to help you along:

Arugula: short leaves on a long stem; peppery tasting, can be bitter

Belgian endive: short, white leaves with yellow tips; slightly bitter

Boston and bibb lettuce: soft texture; sweet, mild flavor

Escarole: white on the bottom, deep green on tip; slightly bitter

Iceberg lettuce: pale green; texture is crisp; flavor is mild

Green and red-leaf lettuce: ruffled or smooth leaves; mild, delicate taste

Radicchio: leaves are red on top and white on the bottom; slightly bitter flavor

Romaine: long, deep green leaves; crisp and strong tasting

Watercress: looks like a mass of dark green springs; sharp, mustardlike flavor

Remember, the darker the lettuce, the more nutritious the leaves. Any of the above salad greens can be combined to produce a more flavorful and nutritious salad.

Many restaurants and supermarkets have a mesclun salad variety, which is mixture of “baby” salad greens, like the ones above. Spinach also makes a hearty salad base.

When preparing the lettuce leaves, be sure to rinse the greens thoroughly to remove dirt and pesticides. Drain or blot dry to remove extra water, or use a salad spinner. Keep unwashed lettuce in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. For a more appealing salad, tear the leaves instead of cutting them.