Green Salads

Green salads use fresh greens as their base. These salads can be served as an appetizer, or as a main course. Green salads can include many different kinds of ingredients, from vegetables to meat. Chefs often add fresh herbs, nuts, or even edible flower petals. You can make a salad mild or spicy by using different leafy greens. When you mix different greens, you can make salads with interesting, unusual flavors and textures. Three main types of greens and leafy vegetables are used in tossed salads: traditional greens, flavor-adding greens, and herbs and other specialty items.

Traditional Greens

Greens are the traditional main ingredient in tossed salads. Because they have a mild flavor, they can be used by themselves or combined with other, more flavorful greens. The romaine and butterhead lettuces add flavor and texture. Iceberg lettuce has less flavor, but it stays crisp longer than other greens.

There are many different types of traditional greens that can be used:

• Baby lettuce consists of many types of lettuces, including baby green bibb, red sails, and baby red oak, that have a delicate flavor. They have wrinkled or wavy leaves.

• Butterhead lettuce has a soft texture. Its leaves form a loose rosette shape. It has a buttery, mild flavor.

• Iceberg lettuce has dense leaves that are a pale green color. Iceberg lettuce leaves stay crisp for a long time, but they are not as flavorful as other lettuce leaves.

• Loose-Leaf lettuce consists of red, green, and oak leaf lettuces. They have leaves that curl along the edges.

• Mache has dark-green, delicate leaves that have a slightly nutty flavor.

• Romaine lettuce heads are not rounded. Instead, they form a cylinder shape. The leaves are ruffled and loosely packed. Spinach is not a lettuce. This dark-green, leafy vegetable is full of calcium and adds color and flavor to salads. Try to select small, young leaves for a delicate, distinctive flavor and texture. Spinach must be thoroughly washed and have its stems removed before serving.

Different Salad Greens
Healthful Greens Different salad greens not only add flavor, they can also add nutrition. Why do you think darker greens add nutritional value to salads?

Salad Greens Lettuce varieties add a wide range of textures and flavors to salads. How does spinach differ from traditional salad greens?

Flavor-Adding Greens

In recent years, many flavor-adding greens have been used in green salads. Some of these greens are spicy, some bitter, and some have a distinct yet delicate flavor. These greens include arugula (s-'ru-gs-ls), mizuna (mi-'zu-ns), and chicory ('chi-k(s-)re). They are classified as greens, although they may be red, yellow, brown, or white. They add interesting new flavors, textures, and colors.

There are many different types of flavor-adding greens:

• Arugula has a spicy, peppery flavor. Arugula leaves look like dandelion leaves.

• Curly Endive leaves are curly and sharp, and have a bitter flavor. They are pale yellow-green or sometimes white in color.

• Dandelion leaves are long and narrow. Although we know dandelions as weeds that grow in a lawn, the leaves add a complex, bitter flavor to salads.

• Endive has short creamy white or pale yellow leaves. Endive leaves have a bitter flavor.

• Escarole leaves have a nutty, but bitter, flavor.

• Frisée leaves are very curly. They are also compact and delicate. They have a slightly bitter, but nutty, flavor.

• Mizuna leaves are long and spiky. Their flavor is slightly peppery.

• Tat-Soi leaves are spoon shaped and dark green. They add a spicy and sweet flavor to salads.

• Radicchio (ra-'di-ke-o) has bitter-tasting, crisp leaves. The leaves are compacted tightly together on the head.

• Sorrel leaves are small and green. Although they look like spinach leaves, they have a slightly lemony taste.

• Watercress leaves grow in running streams. The leaves are small and green, with a slightly bitter, peppery flavor.

As salads have become popular dishes for people wanting healthful foods, many other types of greens are being added to salads. Other greens that are more familiar as cooked vegetables are also being added to salads as raw leafy greens to give more flavor. These greens include kale, a cabbage with curly green or multicolored leaves, and Chinese cabbage.

Herbs and Other Specialty Items

Sprigs of fresh herbs, such as oregano and basil, can be included in green salads to add flavor and complement other dishes. Parsley, dill, mint, sage, chives, and cilantro all make flavorful additions. Only a small amount of an herb is needed. Too much of any herb will overpower the other flavors and ruin the salad. Herbs should be as fresh as possible, since they will be eaten raw. Leaves can be either torn or chopped.

Science à la Carte r


An emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that typically do not blend with each other. In food, an emulsion is a liquid fat and a water-based liquid that are held together. Vinaigrette, which is made from oil and vinegar, is an example of a shortlived emulsion. When first shaken together, they will emulsify. However, after a short time surface tension will make the oil pull away from the vinegar. This separates the two ingredients.

An emulsifier helps liquids, such as vinegar and oil, combine uniformly and remain combined without separating. Egg yolk is a natural emulsifier.


For this experiment, you will need V$ cup vinegar; % cup cooking oil; 1 pasteurized egg yolk; and a small bowl or bottle with a lid. Record your findings at each step.

• Place the vinegar and oil into the bowl. Place the lid on the bowl and shake it for 10 seconds. Let the bowl sit for 10 minutes.

• Add the pasteurized egg yolk to the bowl. Replace the lid and shake the bowl again. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes.


Review your recorded observations at each step of the procedure. Make a table with two columns. In the left column, record the action you took. In the right column, describe the appearance of the mixture, and whether it was a short-lived emulsion or a permanent emulsion.

NSES B Develop an understanding of the structure and properties of matter.

Using Edible Flowers When you add flower petals to a salad, be sure to clean them well. Dirt and insects can hide deep down in the petals and slip unnoticed into the salad.

There are two specialty items to consider when you make tossed salads. Radicchio is a cabbagelike plant with a slightly bitter, red leaf. In small quantities, radicchio adds color and flavor to fresh salads. Mesclun ('mes-klsn) is a popular mix of baby leaves of lettuces and other more flavorful greens, such as arugula. The benefits of using mesclun are its tender texture and subtle, or understated, flavors.

Edible Flowers

It should not come as a surprise that some flowers are tailor-made for salads. They add unusual flavors, dashes of bright color, and interesting textures. Edible flowers should be purchased from a grower that does not use pesticides.

Nasturtiums (ns-'stsr-shsmz), with their tangy blossoms, are one of the more popular floral additions. Pansy, primrose, rose, and violet petals are also popular. Flowering herbs, such as oregano, rosemary, chives, and thyme, can be used as well.

Green Salad Preparation Techniques

Selecting good, healthful greens for salads can make the difference between a flavorful salad with a lot of texture, and a limp, tasteless dish. Here are some things to keep in mind when you work with salad greens.

Choose Quality Greens

Whenever possible, purchase salad greens daily, and select ones that appear fresh and undamaged. Slightly wilted greens can be revived if they are submerged in ice water for

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  • gloria
    What are the three main types of greens used in tossed salads?
    6 years ago