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How to Make a Green Salad

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2009

Follow these simple tips when buying and preparing lettuce for a delicious and healthy salad.

Lettuce Glossary
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.

Leaf lettuces
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.

Other Greens
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 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.

Comments (3)

  • gargouille6 11 Feb, 2009

    To help the salad to be crispier and clear of any little uninvited guess I add about 1 Tsp of white vinegar and a pinch of white sugar to the last rinsing water and rinse again before using the spinner. Also when I wash my vegetables before cooking I also soak them in water and a a bit of vinegar before cooking .

  • SassyJanLouise 11 Feb, 2009

    I totally agree with Pastrychefpisces! Let the guests speak!!!!

  • Pastrychefpisces 11 Feb, 2009

    O.k., so what's the point of having Sarah on the show if she can't get a word in? I know it's the "Martha Stewart" show, but sometimes she just needs to let them finish their conversations and demostations or else just do it herself. Everytime someone's on and she interupts them, I'm left with "I wonder what he/she was trying to say?" and it looks as if they either forgot what they were going to say or they're just trying to keep up with the next question or demo.