Preparing Greens

Easy steps to a crisp, tasty salad.

Cleaning

  • Before washing and storing salad greens, remove and discard discolored, tough, or wilted outer leaves.
  • To clean leaf lettuce, such as green leaf, romaine, Bibb lettuce, or curly endive, wash the leaves by holding them under cold running water. Gently shake dry. Tear off the bottom core. Transfer leaves to a colander. Rinse well under cold running water; gently shake out remaining water.
  • Clean spinach, watercress, arugula, and other small-leaf greens by dunking the leaves into a large bowl of cold water. After a minute or two, transfer the greens to a colander. Rinse well under cold running water; gently shake out remaining water.
  • To clean iceberg lettuce, loosen the core by hitting the stem end sharply on the countertop. Twist the core and lift it out. Hold the head, core side up, under cold running water. Pull the leaves apart slightly from the center and rinse the lettuce thoroughly. Invert the head and drain.

Drying

  • Water that clings to greens dilutes dressing and makes salad soggy. Excess moisture also causes stored greens to deteriorate quickly. After draining greens in a colander, place them on a clean kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels. Gently pat the greens dry with a second towel or paper towels.

Storing

  • Wrap cleaned greens in a clean, dry kitchen towel or paper towels, and refrigerate them in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container. Greens will stay crisp for three to four days.

Serving

  • Clean and chill ingredients ahead of time. Also chill salad plates and bowls.
  • If a salad includes tomatoes, add them just before tossing to keep them from watering out and diluting the dressing.
  • Mix a tossed salad with its dressing at the last minute to prevent the dressing from wilting the greens.
  • Accent salads with simple trims such as onion or green pepper rings, radish roses, pimiento strips, olives, small whole fruits, cherry tomatoes, and nuts.