|'Lettuce' Make Salad|
|'Lettuce' Make Salad|
|Written by Lynn Greene|
|Sunday, 31 May 2009 23:00|
Americans now consume an average of about 30 pounds of lettuce per year - five times more than they ate 100 years ago. Part of the reason for the popularity of green salads is the increased availability of ingredients.
Generally, the darker the color, the more nutrients you'll get. For example, romaine or watercress has seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, two to four times the calcium and twice the potassium as iceberg lettuce. Greens are good sources of vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, some calcium and provide plenty of dietary fiber.
An extraction made from spinach is responsible for the discovery of folic acid. Folic is actually a derivation of "folium," which is Latin for leaf. This extraction from the leaf of spinach was found to be effective in the treatment of anemia. Anemia, as most people know, also is treated with iron supplements, and spinach also has a lot of iron.
Spinach, as a matter of fact, is high in all of these: vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, B2, B6, manganese, folic acid and iron. The only other green that provides so much of so many necessary ingredients is collard greens - a cheap, common green that we should take much more seriously and eat much more often.
Today, we can enjoy the convenience of prewashed, packaged salad greens. But, a word of caution here: Check for preservatives on these bags of greens, and be aware that some preservatives can cause migraines. Ascorbic acid is fine; it's a concentrated natural ingredient, a form of vitamin C. If you are buying your tossed greens from a salad bar, also ask about preservatives. Many restaurants, even high-end places, are purchasing premixed and chopped greens. Many of these contain nitrites and nitrate. Both of these are common preservatives and common triggers of these debilitating headaches.
Salad dressings also contain a lot of preservatives, but alternatives are simple to make at home. Try this easy recipe for an Italian-style vinaigrette: Combine 1/2 cup vinegar, 1-1/2 cups olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon each of thyme, basil, marjoram, oregano and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour all ingredients into a jar and shake before serving. If you enjoy a fruit-flavored dressing, reduce the vinegar to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup of unreconstituted frozen juice concentrate. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Keep for up to one week.
Store your lettuce and greens in the refrigerator crisper or drawer. Don't store near fruits, such as apples or bananas, which give off ethylene gas. It speeds up the ripening or aging process. Although we don't think of greens as ripening, in this case, it means they will deteriorate faster.
Be sure to wash your greens before eating. This is especially important because most greens are eaten raw. While proper cooking will kill bacteria present in other foods, this is not the case with raw lettuce.
A salad spinner really makes a big difference in preparing greens for the table. Wash the greens and then place them in the spinner to remove the excess water. The simplest spinners have a handle that you pump,?? which makes the greens spin around, releasing excess water. This is important because the salad dressing will not adhere to wet leaves.
While we tend to eat greens raw, some - endive or radicchio, for example - are just as good cooked.
If you like to grill out, try this simple recipe: Cut a head of radicchio in half through the stem. Do not remove the core. Brush with a bit of olive oil and grill until softened and it begins to brown. This only takes about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve as a colorful side dish to poultry, beef or pork.
Spinach salad with tuna
6 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup green pepper, diced
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
6 oz. tuna, canned, drained or in a pouch
1/2 cup prepared vinaigrette dressing
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese, optional
Divide spinach evenly onto four prechilled salad plates. Combine tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions and tuna in large bowl. Add dressing, toss to coat. Spoon over spinach. Garnish with shredded cheese if desired.
3-4 small to medium beets, cleaned and sliced
4 Tbsps. olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
4 cups cleaned salad greens
Dash of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup feta cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the sliced beets, cooking until fork tender. Drain and let cool. Heat the olive oil, and add the garlic and the cleaned greens. Stir while you saute the greens until just limp. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar, beets and toss. Garnish with feta cheese.