Salad Basics



– Choose fresh, crisp greens with no bruising, discoloration or wilting.
– Remove roots and stems, if necessary, and any brown or wilted spots.
– Store unwashed greens in a paper towel–​lined sealed plastic bag or a tightly covered container with damp (not wet) paper towels; refrigerate up to 5 days.
– Rinse greens under cold water and shake off excess moisture before using.
– Salad greens should be as dry as possible when using so dressings cling and don’t get watery.

Drying Lettuce
Salad Spinner: Place washed leaves in basket of spinner; cover spinner and spin until lettuce is dry.
Towel Dry: Place washed leaves on clean kitchen towel or in several layers of paper towels and pat dry.


Butterhead Lettuce (Bibb, Boston): Small rounded heads of soft, tender, buttery leaves; delicate, mild flavor.

Iceberg Lettuce (Crisphead): Solid, compact heads with leaves ranging in color from medium green outer leaves to pale green inner ones; very crisp, mild flavor.

Leaf Lettuce (Green, Red, Oak): Tender, crisp leaves in loose heads. Mildly flavored but stronger than iceberg lettuce.

Mâche (Corn Salad): Spoon-shaped medium- to dark-green leaves with velvety texture; mild, subtly sweet and nutty.

Mesclun (Field or Wild Greens): A mixture of young, tender, small greens often including arugula, chervil, chickweed, dandelion, frisée, mizuna and oak leaf lettuce.

Mixed Salad Greens (Prepackaged): These prewashed greens come in many varieties, some with dressing, croutons or cheese.

Romaine Lettuce (Cos): Narrow, elongated, dark green, crisp leaves with tips sometimes tinged with red. The broad white center rib is especially crunchy.


Arugula (Rocket): Small, slender, dark green leaves similar to radish leaves; slightly bitter, peppery mustard flavor. Pick smaller leaves for milder flavor.

Belgian Endive (French): Narrow, cupped, cream-colored leaves tinged with green or red; slightly bitter flavor.

Cabbage: Comes in several distinctly flavored varieties. Green and red cabbage are most common; look for compact heads of waxy, tightly wrapped leaves. Savoy cabbage has crinkled leaves and Chinese (or napa) cabbage has long, crisp leaves.

Curly Endive: Frilly, narrow, slightly prickly leaves; slightly bitter taste.

Escarole: Broad, wavy, medium-green leaves; slightly bitter flavor but milder than Belgian or curly endive.

Frisée: Slender, curly leaves ranging in color from yellow-white to yellow-green; slightly bitter flavor.

Greens (Beet, Chard, Collard, Dandelion, Mustard): All have a strong, sharp flavor. Young greens are milder and more tender for tossed salads; older greens are more bitter and should be cooked for best flavor.

Kale: Firm dark green leaves with frilly edges tinged with shades of blue and purple; mild cabbage taste. Pick young, small leaves for best flavor.

Radicchio: Looks like a small, loose-leaf cabbage with smooth, tender leaves; slightly bitter flavor. The two most common radicchios in the United States are a ruby red variety with broad white veins and one with leaves speckled in shades of pink, red and green.

Sorrel (Sour Grass): Resembles spinach, but with smaller leaves; sharp, lemony flavor.

Spinach: Smooth, tapered, dark green leaves, sometimes with crumpled edges; slightly bitter flavor. Baby spinach leaves are smaller and milder in flavor than regular spinach leaves.

Watercress: Small, crisp, dark green, coin-size leaves; strong peppery flavor.

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