When it comes to having a fresh, crisp salad no other vegetable can compare. Choosing from a variety of greens and then adding cooked and raw vegetables, along with crisp accents and a flavorful dressing, can lead to endless combinations.
Salads are great for any meal-enhancer and are very versatile. They can be used as appetizers, as a first course, accompaniments to dinner, or even as the whole meal. Some people even use salads as a desert.
The nice thing about making a fresh green salad is that you can use your creativity and create any type of salad. It is easy to as long as you know what type of lettuces there are and how to combine the different ingredients to take advantage of the different flavors, texture, and appearance. Greens are the most vital part of most salads. It helps to know the most common market and garden varieties of the different types of greens.
- Iceberg the most common mild lettuce. This lettuce has a compact, round head made up of crisp, pale, and bland tasting leaves. You can find this lettuce year round.
- Romaine is a narrow lettuce, with rather dark green leaves; this lettuce had a head that is loaf shaped. This green is very dependable with its crispness. This lettuce can be combined with a softer-leafed lettuce.
- Boston and Bibb are a type of lettuce that has soft, medium green leaves with a sweet flavor. This type of lettuce has a fluffy rounded head.
- Leaf Lettuces include varieties that no matter where they are grown never really ever form a head. The red leaf lettuce contrasts nicely with other greens. Green leaf lettuce makes tasty sandwiches and is also used to line salad plates.
- Spinach varieties can be used interchangeably in salads. Several varieties are available: one kind with smooth, tapered leaves; another with rounder crumpled-looking leaves; a third with thick leaves.
- Endive is the name of a whole family. It includes curly endive (sometimes called chicory) which is frilly and narrow-leaved; escarole, a less-frilly variety with broader leaflets; Belgian or French endive, which is small and pale with a pointed head and has a distinctly bitter flavor. Most often this variety is imported.
- Watercress has little round leaves with a strong peppery flavor. It is usually used as an accent or garnish.
- Cabbage always seems to be available. Cabbage can add variety to salads by using the familiar green or red cabbage, or any of the other types of cabbage such as the crinkly-leafed savoy, curly cabbage, or the long crisp Chinese cabbage.
- Sprouts range from the delicate seedlings of alfalfa to the coarse mung beans. All sprouts contribute crispness and a distinctive flavor to any salad. Sprouts are easy to grow in your own kitchen. They are also sold year-round in supermarkets.
Try to experiment with the many different combinations of greens, and you decide which ones you like best.
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