If you are buying head lettuce, instead of leaf lettuce, then no wonder your salads are boring. Head lettuce is fine, but you would get just as much nutritional value if you just had a glass of water. No, what you need is something to wake up those taste buds. Let’s start with a little crash coarse in lettuce and greens.
In the U.S. lettuces are generally grouped into one of four categories: butterheads, crispheads or icebergs, leaf lettuces and romaine or cos. None of these should be confused with greens, which are edible plant leaves. Butterhead varieties, like Bibb and Boston lettuces, have small, round loose heads with sweet, pale green leaves. The crispheads or icebergs are larger, more compact and very low in nutrients. But they are attractive to distributors because they are wilt resistant. In contrast the leaf lettuces are darker in color, have more vitamins, are more flavorful and spoil faster. Romaine lettuce has dark green outside leaves and lighter inside ones. They have a slightly bitter taste and a crunchy texture.
Many people ignore the greens section at the grocery store, because they don’t know what to do with them. Greens come from collards, chicory, dandelions, mustards and turnips and are rich in nutrients and flavor. You can simmer them in boiling water for ten minutes, steam them or just eat them raw. Try small portions if you are unfamiliar with the flavors. If you like picante and other hot sauces, you are going to love the spicy greens for what they can do to perk up your salad.
So even though your basic green veggies are ready to go, how come you still feel a bit under whelmed? One way to add both color and texture to a salad is to add other veggies. How about a yellow or red bell pepper, full of vitamin C? Throw in some bits of cauliflower and now the color starts to make the dish seem much more appealing. But you’re a meat and potatoes person. Where’s the protein?
There is no law that says you can’t add meat to a salad. If you have a grill, cook up some chicken to place on top of your salad or to eat on the side. Beans are another great source of protein and they are filling. Great northern, kidney and lima beans are great choices. Protein can also be obtained from nuts. Try some crunchy almonds.
Rummage around in your condiments and see what is there. How about some olives, sun-dried tomatoes or artichoke hearts to add a little tang? Look in your spice cabinet. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle some seeds into the salad. Sesame, fennel, poppy, dill, anise or sunflower are excellent vitamin-packed choices. Go ahead pick one and see how you like it. Remember, you promised you would use a little imagination.