Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Great Greens, Good to Go

I really like salad and am always shocked by the luxury prices charged at delis and restaurants for just a few shreds of lettuce. I have used the bagged, "prewashed" lettuces, but haven't ever loved anything about them but the convenience. After this year's spinach/e coli scare I am even less enamored of this product.

So, what's a neurotic, penny-pinching, fresh-obsessed girl to do, but figure out a way to give myself pre-washed convenience with fresh head of lettuce price and quality. I have fine-tuned a method that allows me to do all my washing up on one day and enjoy salad for most of the week.

Salad to Order

Step 1: Wash your lettuce. I know, duh. But seriously, give it a good washing in lots of water. Depending on your lettuce, you may need to do this several times to get rid of all the sand and dirt and other icky things.

Step 2: Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces.

Step 3: Dry the lettuce - I use a salad spinner and don't know why everyone doesn't have one - they are just great. I usually prep enough lettuce for several salads. This week I prepped 6 salads (3 meals for 2) and used 2 small heads of lettuce and one of radicchio. If you have a lot of lettuce, you'll need to dry it in batches. Mix it all together in a big bowl.

Step 4: Packaging - you will need quart size zip-top sandwich bags for small salads and gallon sized for large ones. You also need paper towels: 1 per small bag, 2 per large bag. Lay your paper towel on the counter and put a handful of lettuce in (1 handful for one, 2 handfuls for 2, you get the drift ...). I find an assembly line approach (pic above) gives me the most consistent sizing. Wrap the lettuce in the paper towel - note my technique in the pic on the right.

Step 5: Put the lettuce wrap into the baggie. Gently press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Throw the bags in the fridge. Sealed well and kept cold, this lettuce will hold well through Thursday without any noticeable quality loss. When you're ready for salad, pull out the toweling (it will make a nice napkin after you've eaten), toss the dressing in the bag and shake.

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