Follow these simple tips when buying and preparing lettuce for a delicious and healthy salad.
Should have dark-green, narrow, stiff leaves and loosely folded heads.
Butter lettuces, such as Boston or Bibb
Look for light-green leaves with small, round, loosely formed heads.
Crisp heads, such as iceberg
Heads should be tightly formed, with crisp, unblemished leaves.
Choose tender, unblemished leaves; color varies depending on variety.
Endive, chicory, escarole, radicchio, and frisee
These should have crisp, tender leaves that are not discolored.
This loose-leaf lettuce mix often includes arugula, mizuna, mache, frisee, sorrel, and radicchio, among others; look for leaves that aren't wilted and don't have wet, mushy, or yellow spots.
Dandelion, sorrel, mustard, watercress, arugula, and mache should have green, tender leaves free from brusing, tears, or any signs of yellowing.
Buying Salad Greens
- Lettuces are best fresh picked.
- A farmers' market is probably your best bet for buying the freshest salad greens.
- Avoid bruised and wilted leaves, or those with discoloration on inner leaves or midribs.
- Steer clear of lettuce with "tip burn," an early sign of rot.
- Bagged salad mixes are convenient, but the greens will likely have been picked and packaged long before neighboring whole heads of lettuce, so are not a good choice.
Washing and Storing Salad Greens
1. Fill a clean basin or large bowl with cold water.
2. Submerge lettuce leaves in water.
3. Swish to loosen dirt.
4. Remove lettuce.
5. Drain dirty water.
6. Repeat process until there is no residue in the bowl.
7. Use a salad spinner to dry. To prevent lettuce from turning brown too quickly, don't tear leaves into smaller pieces until you're ready to use them.
8. Lay leaves between layers of paper towel.
9. Roll and transfer to a plastic bag or transfer to refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Cooking School Lessons
Pair your salads with these delicious dressings: Lemon Vinaigrette and Buttermilk-Herb Vinaigrette. For information about Martha's Cooking School, visit marthastewart.com/cookingschool. Plus, don't be bored with your everyday salad recipes -- try these 19 easy and flavorful salads to add zest to your health.
Test your Cooking School knowledge.