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Friday, July 18, 2014
Step 1: Start with the freshest greens
Not all greens are created equal. The flavor, texture, and color of the salad are completely up to you. For example, Arugala has a slightly peppery taste…vibrant basil adds a touch of deliciousness. For a more bitter salad, endive, escarole, or radicchio may be a better choice. Smell, touch, and if possible, taste the leaves! Choose the greens that look the best at the market, ones that appear just-picked, and go from there!
Step 2: Cut the leaves, but keep their shape
When the leaves are cut too small they lose their distinctive crunch. On the other hand you don’t want leaves so big they overtake the plate. Greens with small leaves, such as arugula, basil, purslane, watercress, and young spinach, should be stemmed but the leaves left whole. Larger leaves, from greens such as romaine, large red oak leaf, and escarole, should be trimmed.
Step 3: Wash the greens gently and dry them completely
Submerge the leaves in a bowl of cool or ice cold water. This will get the sandy grit out from between the crevices. When you are ready to take it out, spread your fingers and grab a bunch from the bottom. Repeat this procedure with fresh water until no sand is left in the bottom of the bowl.
Excess water will actually dilute the flavor of the leaves. Salad spinners work wonderfully, but if you don’t have one you can lay them out on a towel or paper towels until the water is dry off the leaves. Try not to bunch them all up since it will make it more difficult for the leaves to dry.
Step 4: Dress the greens simply
Try tossing your salad leaves with a simple vinaigrette. Use three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice. You can experiment with different varieties of oils and vinegars. Stronger-flavored oils and vinegars, such as nut oils and balsamic vinegar, are best reserved for heartier greens, such as watercress, arugula, and the chicory family.
Step 5: Add your toppings
Don’t be afraid to mix sweet with savory. I recommend avoid adding on too many toppings because it will take away from the flavor of the salad greens. Choose 2-3 toppings and toss them in with the salad using large spoons.
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