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Wash garden lettuces or other salad greens well, but do not let them soak in water. This can soften the leaves and cause them to spoil quicker.  Dry the greens thoroughly, either by blotting with paper towels or with a salad spinner.

They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but put a damp paper towel into the bag before closing. Otherwise, place a paper towel in the bottom of a plastic container. Put in the salad greens, then place a damp paper towel over the lettuce. Cover with an airtight lid.

Watercress can be stored by sticking the stems in a glass of water and placing a plastic bag over the leaves. Wild greens should be used immediately.  Lettuce will last 3-5 days depending on the variety. Romaine will keep longer. Tear or cut lettuces and greens before adding them to salads. Cut strong-tasting wild greens into smaller pieces than you would for lettuces to distribute their flavors.


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MesclunMany of the greens found in the wild have become legitimized by the popularity of mesclun mixes and intentionally cultivated. Mesclun, comes from a French word meaning “mixture.”  Originating in Provence, France, mesclun traditionally was a blend of chervil, arugula, lettuce, and endive. These were usually grown together and harvested when only a few inches high.

Mesclun in America is much more varied. Not only are the blends packed with eight to sixteen different kinds of greens, but they are also geared for different tastes.  Some are quite mild and contain much more lettuce. Peppery mescluns can have cresses, chicory, arugula, and mustards mixed with regular leaf lettuce. Many of the greens in these salad blends are: lettuces, endives, mustards, purslane, cresses, escarole, arugula, chard, and spinach. Exotic greens like mizuna from Japan or tat-soi from China are popular, too. Some mescluns even have herbs, like parsleys and fennels, and edible flowers.


LettuceThe foundation of most salads is a leafy green, usually lettuce.  A member of the daisy family, lettuce is thought to have come from Central Asia and was cultivated in the royal gardens of Persia around 500 BC. Four main types of lettuce exist today:  looseleaf, cos (romaine), butterhead, and crisphead (Iceberg).  Looseleaf varieties include black-seeded Simpson, Oakleaf, Salad Bowl, and the red varieties (Red Sails and Red Salad Bowl). Butterhead lettuces, Bibb and Boston, are most prized by chefs for their tender, sweet leaves.  Romaine lettuce is crisper than looseleaf and has a longer shelf life. Escarole, a peppery green, is highly prized for its peppery taste and its spiky look.


SaladWhen we think of summer, cooking in a hot kitchen is the last thing we want to do. That’s why salads, cold soups, and quick grilled entrees have become some of summer greatest culinary pleasures. This week, we’re going to look at salads and salad dressings.

Any vegetable can be used in a salad, either as the base or as a delicious tidbit in a lovely bowl of lettuce. Leftover cooked vegetables (lima beans, broccoli, peas, asparagus, carrots, beets, etc.) are great additions, as well as many of their counterparts served raw.  Sprouts, raisins, celery, various nuts, onions, garlic, capers, and olives are also great in salads. Even sliced apples, pears, mangoes, and oranges can add sweet taste and texture.  Cheeses and cooked meats and chicken can kick up a salad from a beginning or ending of a meal to its main attraction. Edible flowers have historically been used in salads. They can be ordered from organic gardeners or from food suppliers.

Chef Scott suggests serving a salad at the end of a meal or between courses to cleanse the palate and prepare for a luscious dessert or piquant course.


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