Leafy greens like kale and spinach are great sources of nutrition. Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, they help protect bones and may even prevent inflammatory diseases, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
The good news is there are more ways to incorporate leafy greens into your diet than just in your classic house salad. Experimenting with different types of lettuce, like arugula or escarole, can make your side salad the main attraction.
Here are some common leafy greens and how to buy & store them.
An Italian favorite has a bitter, peppery taste that adds bite to your salad. When buying, look for fresh leaves with bright green coloring. To keep fresh, wash and dry leaves thoroughly, then wrap tightly in a plastic bag before refrigerating.
Characterized by its large round leaves that range in color from dark green on the edges to pale-green on the inside, Bibb lettuce has a soft texture and sweet flavor. Look for even green coloring on the head and loose, thick leaves. Keep refrigerated in a loosely packed plastic bag and do not wash until ready to eat.
Escarole is one of the three main varieties of endive along with Belgium endive and curly endive, which are often confused with chicory. Escarole has broader slightly curved, pale green leaves. Avoid heads with discoloration and insect damage. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to three days.
A member of the cabbage family, kale has a similar taste. Although it’s available in most supermarkets year-round, it’s best in the winter. There are a few different types of kale that range in color and taste. The most common, curly kale, is a deep green color with leafy bunches. Look for rich color with little to no yellowing. Keep refrigerated and eat in the first three days. To prepare, remove the center stalk and massage leaves with oil. This will help break down the fibers and make it less tough.
These are the leaves found on the mustard plant - and you guessed it, with the same peppery, mustard flavor. It has a rich dark green color, with thick leaves and thin stems. Avoid discolored leaves and stems that are thick, brown or dried out. To store, refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to a week.
On your next trip to the grocery store, pick up some leafy greens and try one of these not-so-average salads.