The Skinny on... Salad Greens
There’s a lot more to salad greens than packaged mixes or a head of iceberg lettuce. Here's how to go green.
From arugula to watercress, in varied shapes and shades, greens are versatile both raw and cooked. Here’s what you need to know about choosing, using and enjoying this year-round standard.
ButterheadButterhead lettuces, such as Boston and Bibb, make a sweet, mild salad — a good match with simple dressings, berries, stone fruits and mild vegetables.
CrispheadCrisphead lettuces like the classic iceberg have a slightly acidic, clean taste, best with creamy dressings.
Loose-leafLoose-leaf lettuces like red leaf, green leaf or oak leaf lettuce offer a mild, grassy taste and a soft texture, good as a second fiddle to more robust or crisper greens
Long-leafLong-leaf lettuces like romaine provide crunch with a slightly bitter flavor, great with creamy dressings or against softer, sweeter greens like red leaf lettuce.
ArugulaA microgreen with a peppery bite, sometimes overwhelming on its own, especially when the leaves are larger.
MâcheA mild, sweet microgreen that pairs extremely well with tomatoes
MizunaA Japanese variety of microgreen, very tart and best paired with crunchy greens like torn-up romaine.
SorrelA very bitter microgreen, best only with very strong dressings (Roquefort, anyone?) or braised with other vegetables in soups, stews and stocks. Raw, it should be eaten in moderation since its high oxalic-acid content can cause an upset stomach.
WatercressA mustardy microgreen that’s great in sandwiches (so long as you remove any tough, woody stems).
Belgian endiveCrunchy and bitter, it’s a good foil to sweeter greens (despite its name, it’s actually a chicory-like radicchio, grown in the dark to prevent its turning green).
Curly endiveLike the French favorite, frisée, these are lacy, floppy greens that offer a pungent, chewy backdrop to crisp bacon or radishes
Dandelion greensAggressively bitter, they can also be braised, as you would collard or mustard greens.
EscaroleAn Italian favorite, a bitter punch often cooked in soups and stews
RadicchioA red chicory, it has a pleasant bitterness often mixed with romaine. Spearlike heads are less bitter than the more familiar, rounded heads.