GREENS WITH ENVY: A GUIDE TO SEASONAL GREENS
THE Boston Cooking-School Cook Book of 1906, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, rejoiced that salads, which "but a few years since seldom appeared on the table," were "now made in an endless variety of ways." Fannie herself would probably be amazed at the sheer number of our current choices.
LOOK for seasonal greens with sparkling fresh leaves without bruising or wilting. Store salad greens, unwashed, loosely wrapped in paper towels and then in plastic bags or wrap, and refrigerate for up to 5 days. As needed, thoroughly wash and dry all greens including, for utmost safety, greens that come prewashed and dried. If desired, washed and dried greens can be rolled in toweling and crisped in refrigerator for several hours before being dressed just before serving. According to Harold McGee's evidence in The Curious Cook, there is no basis for the adage that tearing greens is superior to cutting them with a knife.
SOME of the more popular greens, along with their aliases and more salient characteristics, include:
ARUGULA, ALSO CALLED ROCKET, RUGULA, ROQUETTE, OR ROCKET CRESS: An unmistakable relative of the cabbage with a pungent, slightly peppery, nutty, and sometimes bitter taste.
BELGIAN ENDIVE: Ivory colored, delicately bitter, crisp.
BIBB, OR LIMESTONE, LETTUCE: Crispy leaves, small heads.
BUTTER, OR BOSTON, LETTUCE: Loose-leafed; delicate taste and texture.
CHICORY, CURLY FRISÉE, OR CURLY ENDIVE: Green, feathery leaves;slightly bitter.
DANDELION GREENS: Tangy, flavorful leaves.
ESCAROLE: Heavier than chicory, with less frilly leaves, wide ribs, and a tougher texture but a tender heart.
ICEBERG LETTUCE: An all-purpose, bland-tasting lettuce that goes in and out of fashion but is unbeaten for its combination of sturdiness, year-round availability, and crunch.
LEAF LETTUCE, RED-LEAF LETTUCE, GARDEN LETTUCE: Tender, curly, delicate leaves that wilt quickly.
MÂCHE, ALSO CALLED CORN SALAD, LAMB'S LETTUCE, OR FIELD LETTUCE: A tangy dark-green rosette of leaves with a mild but stimulating flavor; delicious with cooked beets.
MESCLUN: A mix of greens that provide a bouquet of flavors, textures, tastes, and levels of crunch.
MIZUNA: A member of the Asian mustard family; silver and green leaves add texture and delicate flavor.
ORACH: Delicate, sweet, tender leaves ranging in color from red and green to yellow.
RADICCHIO: A magenta-colored, bitter-leafed type of chicory; round Verona, tapered Treviso, and crinkly, white-striped Chiogga are most common.
ROMAINE: Crunchy midribs and dark green elongated leaves; famous in Caesar salad.
SALAD BURNET: Has the smell and taste of cucumber; once revered as a privileged member of Napoleon's daily salad, often paired with wild chicory (though he preferred dried haricot beans).
WATERCRESS: Dark green, mildly peppery, refreshing.
THESE are only a few of the possibilities; there are also red and green chards, several sorrels, spinach, various other cresses. Farmers'-market mixes are increasingly popular for their exciting, palate-provoking tastes and textures but mainly for their unpredictability: They may include red mustards, baby spinaches, pea shoots, red romaines, and anything else the farmer chooses to grow. Salad mixes from the supermarket are also gaining in favor for their ease of use and variety. These usually organic mixes of whatever is in season make salad-tossing a breeze.
13-in. Salad Bowl, Cherry Present a bounty of exotic greens in this 13-in. Wooden Serving Bowl. Made of richly stained Cherry Wood, the bowl is deep enough for a hearty sized salad and for tossing. Varying wood grains add uniqueness to each bowl and a special protective coating ensures it won't absorb oils or flavors. Mix up a Caesar right at the table and see how the dark bowl sets off the bright greens. Also great for serving heaps of snacks, like popcorn or pretzels.
2-pc. Cherry Wood Salad Serving Set Set the flatware down, and pick up a set of Cherry Wood Servers for tossing and serving your salad. Simple, sleek design adds an exotic touch to meals. Set is sturdy and stained a rich reddish brown – perfect accompaniment to the large cherry wood serving bowl. Servers measure 12-in.
Ten Strawberry Street Set of 4 Whitter Square Salad Plate, Red Dress your dinner table with something out of the ordinary - an unexpected surprise for your dinner guests! These plates provide an elegant framework for your special meals with their square shapes and wide rims. Perfect for your next dinner party or great for everyday use, these salad plates become even more dramatic when they are paired with the matching dinner plates. Made of red porcelain.
Totally Bamboo 2-pc. Edward Salad Hands, Light Popular, ergonomic Edward Salad Hands make a great addition to any kitchen. These Edward Salad Hands are made of exquisite bamboo, available in both dark and light color and make perfect salad servers.