Forget wilted lettuce leaves and soggy sliced tomatoes. These days there is a huge choice of salad vegetables from all over the world, some mild and light, others bold and peppery, so there’s no excuse for a sad salad.
Boasting a very high water content, salad vegetables have very few calories (usually around 10 calories per cup). Raw, leafy greens are good for you – this much we know – but some are better than others. There is a simple rule: the greener the lettuce, the greater its nutritional value. Dark vegetables such as spinach and watercress have more nutrients than their lighter counterparts such as butter lettuce and the ubiquitous iceberg. Salad greens are great sources of beta carotene and vitamin C, both of which may protect against heart disease, some cancers and cataracts. Depending on the vegetable, salad greens can also be a source of iron, potassium and calcium. Remember, the dark outer leaves of a lettuce have several times the beta carotene, vitamin C and calcium that the inner leaves do so be sure to use them in your salad.
Nowadays there is a growing preference for organic salad vegetables. Depending on their origin, this ususally means that they have been grown without the use of the chemical herbicides and fumigants, synthetic fertislisers or toxic pesticides used in conventional agriculture. Many gourmets would argue that they taste significantly bitter too, with a deeper, richer flavour than their non-organic counterparts.
Whatever your salad type, it is important to thoroughly wash your greens first to get rid of any residue, dirt or even bugs that may be lurking. Your salad should be as dry as possible before you dress it, since oil and water do not mix, so invest in a salad spinner – the easiest way to dry your leafy greens. To store lettuce after you have washed it, put a damp paper towel on the bottom of a plastic container and another one of top of the leaves. This will help keep your lettuce crisp and it will last longer. Another tip to crisp up wilting leaves is to dunk them in ice cold water to which has been added a dash of white vinegar.
Some suggestions to perk up your salads. Try honey mustard dressing with romaine lettuce and Balsamic vinaigrette is great with spicy Arugula or a simple blue cheese mustard vinaigrette with rocket lettuce
Simple Blue Cheese Mustard Vinaigrette
3 tablespoonful of Blue Cheese
3 tablespoonful of virgin olive oil
2 tablespoonful of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoonful of honey
2 tablespoonful Dijon Mustard sauce
1/2 tablespoonful of sesame oil
Sprinkle of roasted sunflower seed
Combine the ingredients in a mini blender or small jar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.