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.