When purchasing greens, choose those that look the freshest and have no brown spots. Use greens as soon as you can after purchase.
To wash your greens, first remove and discard the roots, then separate the leaves. Swirl leaves around in a bowl or clean sink filled with cold water for about 30 seconds. Remove leaves and shake them gently to let dirt and other debris fall into the water. Repeat the process, using fresh water each time, until the water remains clear.
Dry lettuce is important. The drier it is the better dressings cling to it. A salad spinner works wonders for drying greens. Many spinners start with the touch of a button and stop on their own when the greens are dry. If you don’t have access to one, pat each leaf dry with a clean paper towel. Once the greens are dry, do not cut or tear them until you use them. Washed greens can be stored in the refrigerator in a resealable bag lined with paper towels.
When cutting or tearing greens for a salad, be sure the resulting pieces are uniformly bite size. If they are too large it makes for messy and difficult eating. If tossing greens with vinaigrette or other dressing, do so just before serving so your greens don’t wilt. Some salads that have mayonnaise-based dressings actually benefit from standing overnight to let the flavors blend.
If you’re running short on time, choose a salad mix from the produce section of your supermarket. Not only do these handy mixes shave minutes from your prep time, they allow you to add variety to any salad. Because they are packaged in a specially designed wrapper that allows the greens to “breathe,” store any leftovers in the original bag. If refrigerated immediately, unopened packages will keep for up to 14 days. Even if the package label says the greens have been prewashed, be sure to wash them again to remove all dirt and grit.
“Work With What You Got!”
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