A 2-cup bowlful has less than 15 calories yet is packed with nutrients, such as folate, vitamin C, fiber, potassium and the vitamin A precursor beta carotene, which in itself is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that damage cells.
Salad greens are available in three forms. Prewashed greens are ubiquitous in produce sections. Find them in bags, plastic tubs or bulk bins. Greens come in single-item bags, such as spinach or romaine, or blends, such as mesclun or baby lettuces. Lettuces such as Bibb, Boston, iceberg and romaine are often sold as heads.
Greens like watercress, arugula and spinach are often sold by the bunch.Whether purchased by the bag, head or bunch, salad greens should look fresh, crisp and green. Avoid greens that are brown, yellow, wilted, blemished, bruised or slimy. If stems are still attached they should be undamaged.
To wash gritty greens: Gently swirl in a large bowl of water to loosen any sand or dirt; lift greens from the water to a colander or salad spinner; swirl in two more changes of water to make sure no grit remains. A salad spinner is often a worthwhile investment, as moist salad greens decay faster, and dressings adhere best to dry greens.
To store greens: It is best not to wash leaves before storing because the moisture encourages decay. If greens are sprayed in the market, dry on kitchen towels before wrapping in dry towels and placing in plastic storage bags. Most greens keep in the refrigerator crisper for three to five days.
Did you know? Salad got its name from how it was dressed in the Greek and Roman days. Salads were usually dressed with heavily salted dressings, so they were called herba salta in Latin, or “salted herbs.”