Freshness and variety of ingredients are essential for high-quality salads. Lettuce, of course, is the first choice for most people, but many other foods can make up a salad.
The following tables list, by category, most of the ingredients used in popular sal-ads.You will be able to think of others. Add them to the lists as they occur to you or as they are suggested by your instructor.The lists will be useful when you are creating your own salad ideas.
Following these lists are detailed descriptions of two groups of foods that have not been covered in previous chapters and belong especially in the pantry: salad greens and fresh fruits.
Bibb or limestone lettuce
Chicory or curly endive Frisée
Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage Spinach
Avocado Bean sprouts Broccoli
Cabbage, white, green, and red
Celeriac (celery root)
Onions and scallions
Peppers, red, green, and yellow
VEGETABLES, COOKED, PICKLED, AND CANNED
Artichoke hearts Hearts of palm
Beans (all kinds) Olives
Carrots Peppers, roasted and pickled
Corn Potatoes Cucumber pickles (dill, sweet, etc.) Water chestnuts
Dried beans (cooked or canned) Grains Potatoes Bread (croutons)
FRUITS, FRESH, COOKED, CANNED, OR FROZEN
Kiwi fruit Pomegranates
Kumquats Prickly pear Mandarin oranges and tangerines Raisins Mangoes
Meats (beef, ham) Poultry (chicken, turkey) Fish and shellfish (tuna, crab, shrimp, lobster, salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, any fresh cooked fish) Salami, prosciutto, luncheon meats, etc.
Cheese, aged or cured types
Gelatin (plain or flavored) Nuts
LETTUCE AND OTHER SALAD GREENS
The most popular salad ingredient.Firm, compact head with crisp, mild-tasting pale green leaves.Valuable for its texture because it stays crisp longer than other lettuces. Can be used alone but is best mixed with more flavorful greens such as romaine because it lacks flavor itself.Keeps well.
Elongated, loosely packed head with dark green, coarse leaves.Crisp texture, with full, sweet flavor. Keeps well and is easy to handle. Essential for Caesar salad. For elegant service, the center rib is often removed.
Small, round heads with soft, fragile leaves. Deep green outside shading to nearly white inside.The leaves have a rich,mild flavor and delicate, buttery texture. Bruises easily and does not keep well. Cup-shaped leaves excellent for salad bases.
Romaine or cos lettuce
Bibb or limestone lettuce
Bibb or limestone lettuce
Escarole or broad-leaf endive
Chicory or curly endive
Escarole or broad-leaf endive
Chicory or curly endive
'j Belgian endive or witloof chicory
Bibb or Limestone Lettuce
Similar to Boston lettuce, but smaller and more delicate. A whole head may be only a few inches (less than 10 cm) across. Color ranges from dark green outside to creamy yellow at the core. Its tenderness, delicate flavor, and high price make it a luxury in some markets.The small,whole leaves are often served by themselves,with a light vinaigrette dressing, as an after-dinner salad.
Forms bunches rather than heads. Soft, fragile leaves with curly edges. May be all green or with shades of red.Wilts easily and does not keep well, but is inexpensive and gives flavor,variety, and interest to mixed green salads.
Escarole or Broad-leaf Endive
Broad, thick leaves in bunches rather than heads.Texture is coarse and slightly tough, and flavor is somewhat bitter. Mix with sweeter greens to vary flavor and texture, but do not use alone because of the bitterness. Escarole is frequently braised with olive oil and garlic and served as a vegetable in Italian cuisine.
Chicory or Curly Endive
Narrow, curly, twisted leaves with firm texture and bitter flavor. Outside leaves are dark green; core is yellow or white. Attractive when mixed with other greens or used as a base or garnish, but may be too bitter to be used alone.
Frisée is the same plant as curly endive or chicory, but it is grown in a way that makes it more tender and less bitter. Except for the outer layer, the leaves are pale yellow, slender, and feathery, with a distinct but mild taste.
Belgian Endive or Witloof Chicory
Narrow, lightly packed, pointed heads resembling spearheads, 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long. Pale yellow-green to white in color. Leaves are crisp, with a waxy texture and pleasantly bitter flavor. Usually expensive. Often served alone, split in half or into wedges,or separated into leaves,accompanied by a mustard vinaigrette dressing.
Elongated, light green heads with broad, white center ribs. Available in two forms: narrow, elongated head, often called celery cabbage, and thicker, blunt head, called napa cabbage.Tender but crisp, with a mild cabbage flavor. Adds excellent flavor to mixed green salads. Also used extensively in Chinese cooking.
Small, tender spinach leaves are excellent salad greens, either alone or mixed with other greens. A popular salad is spinach leaves garnished with sliced raw mushrooms and crisp, crumbled bacon. Spinach must be washed thoroughly, and the coarse stems must be removed.
Most commonly used as a garnish, watercress is also excellent in salads. Small, dark green, oval leaves with a pungent, peppery flavor. Remove thick stems before adding to salads.
Also known as rugula or rocket, these pungent, distinctively flavored greens are related to mustard and watercress.They are tender and perishable,and they often are sandy, so they must be washed carefully. Arugula was once found almost exclusively in Italian restaurants, but it has since become more widely available and is increasingly popular.
Mesclun is a mixture of tender baby lettuces. It is available as a mixture,but some chefs prefer to buy individual baby lettuces and make their own mixture.
The small, tender leaves that make up a mesclun mix are also available separately.These include baby Bibb (both red and green), baby romaine,baby red oak leaf, and lola rossa (a red lettuce with ruffled leaves).
Sprouts are young plants that have just emerged from their seeds, before the true leaves develop. Sprouts from mung beans are commonly used in Chinese cooking. Alfalfa, daikon radish, and mustard sprouts are often used in delicate salads. Alfalfa sprouts have a mild flavor,while radish and mustard sprouts have a peppery flavor.
These are the first true leaves that develop after a seed sprouts.Tiny herb leaves and tiny leaves from lettuce and other salad greens, younger and smaller than baby lettuces, are used mostly as garnish for other dishes, both hot and cold.
Tatsoi is a small, dark green round leaf. Its flavor has a pleasant bite similar to that of arugula,watercress, and other members of the mustard family. It is sometimes included in mesclun mixtures, although it is not actually a lettuce.
Mizuna, also known as Japanese mustard greens, is a dark green leaf with jagged edges resembling dandelion leaves. It has a mild,mustardy taste.
Also called corn salad,lamb's lettuce,lamb's tongue,andfield salad,mâche is a small, very tender green with spoon-shaped leaves. It has a delicate,nutty flavor.
Radicchio (ra dik ee oh), a red-leafed Italian variety of chicory, has creamy white ribs or veins and generally comes in small, round heads. It has a crunchy texture and a slightly bitter flavor. Radicchio is expensive, but only a leaf or two are needed to add color and flavor to a salad.
Treviso is a red-leafed plant like radicchio, but with elongated leaves somewhat like Belgian endive. Like radicchio and endive,it belongs to the chicory family and has a slightly bitter flavor.
The familiar lawn ornament is also cultivated for use in the kitchen. Only young, tender leaves may be used. Older leaves are coarse and bitter, though cultivated varieties are milder than wild dandelion. Best in spring.
Precleaned, Precut Salad Greens
Precut greens are sold in large, sealed plastic bags.They save labor costs in large operations but are more perishable than unprocessed greens. Keep refrigerated, and do not open until ready to use. Unopened bags will keep for two or three days. Taste before serving to make sure the greens do not have too much antioxidant on them, making them bitter.
EVALUATING AND PREPARING
The following is a summary of the most commonly available fresh fruits. Emphasis is on the qualities to look for when purchasing them and on how to trim and prepare the fruit for use. In addition,identification information is included for certain exotic items. Nearly everyone knows what apples, bananas, and strawberries are, but not everyone can identify a persimmon or a passion fruit.Trimming yields are also given. How to use these percentages is explained on page 513.
Apples. Mature apples have a fruity aroma, brown seeds, and a slightly softer texture than unripe fruit. Overripe or old apples are soft and sometimes shriveled. Avoid apples with bruises, blemishes, decay, or mealy texture. Summer varieties (sold until fall) do not keep well. Fall and winter varieties keep well and are available for a longer period. Apples with a good acid content are usually better for cooking than bland eating varieties like Red Delicious. Granny Smith and Golden Delicious are widely used for cook-ing.To prepare,wash;pare if desired. Quarter and remove core,or leave whole and core with a special coring tool. Use a stainless-steel knife for cutting. After paring, dip in solution of lemon juice (or other tart fruit juice) or ascorbic acid to prevent browning. Percentage yield: 75%
Apricots. Only tree-ripened apricots have sufficient flavor, and they keep for a week or less under refrigeration.They should be golden yellow, firm, and plump, not mushy. Avoid fruit that is too soft, blemished, or decayed.
Wash, split in half, and remove pit. Peeling is not necessary for most purposes. Percentage yield: 94%
Bananas. Look for plump, smooth bananas without bruises or spoilage. All bananas are picked green, so you don't need to avoid unripe fruit. Avoid overripe fruit, however.
Ripen at room temperature for three to five days; fully ripe fruit is all yellow with small brown flecks and no green. Do not refrigerate, or fruit will discolor. Peel and dip in fruit juice to prevent browning. Percentage yield: 70%
Berries. This category includes blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackcurrants (cassis), red currants, white currants, lingonberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Berries should be full, plump, and clean, with bright, fully ripe color.Watch for moldy or spoiled fruits.Wet spots on carton indicate damaged fruit.
Refrigerate in original container until ready to use in order to reduce handling. Except for cranberries, berries do not keep well. Sort out spoiled berries and foreign ma-terials.Wash with gentle spray and drain well. Remove stems from strawberries. Red currants for garnishing are often left on the stem. Handle berries carefully to avoid bruising. Percentage yield: 92-95%
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