Salad Greens Buyer's Guide
9 great greens to add to your salad bowl.
Ever notice all the different greens that make up "mesclun"? Mesclun, roughly translated from the Provençal dialect, means "mixture." Many of the greens in mesclun mixes are available individually at the supermarket or at farmers’ markets or in your garden if you grow your own. This guide will help you identify some of our favorite choices for the salad bowl.
Shopping Tips: Salad greens are available in three forms. Prewashed greens are ubiquitous in produce sections. Find them in bags, plastic tubs or bulk bins. Whether purchased by the bag, head or bunch, salad greens should look fresh, crisp and green. Avoid greens that are brown, yellow, wilted, blemished, bruised or slimy. If stems are still attached, they should be undamaged.
Storage Tips: Dry, unwashed greens stay fresh longer. Blot any wet greens dry before storing in plastic bags. Refrigerate in your crisper for 3 to 5 days.
Washing Tips: Wash and thoroughly dry greens just before use—dressing adheres better to dry greens and extra water dilutes the flavor of the dressing. We like to use a salad spinner: Add cold water to within 1 inch of the top of the bowl, fill the basket two-thirds full with greens and submerge in the water. Soak greens at least 5 minutes. (Repeat if your greens are particularly dirty or sandy.) Lift out the basket, discard the water and return the basket to the spinner. Cover and spin the greens until dry. Blot any remaining water with a kitchen towel.
See our descriptions of nine different greens below to find your favorite.
Arugula: A quick-growing, peppery salad green that stars in most mesclun mixes. Baby arugula has a more mellow flavor and larger-leafed mature arugula is more intensely spicy.
Baby beet greens: Beets usually are grown for their roots, so look for varieties that are prized for the leaves, such as Bull’s Blood.
Freckles lettuce: For those who can’t choose between green leaf and red leaf lettuce, this upright romaine lettuce has mottled green leaves with red spots.
Mâche: This green has unique rounded cup-shaped leaves that are clustered together into rosettes. The sweet leaves call for a light vinaigrette to balance their mild, nutty flavor.
Mizuna: The foliage of this Japanese mustard has a feathery look and a milder flavor than other mustards.
Red giant mustard: This zesty mustard green has dark purple leaves that are less spicy when young and tender. Try pairing it with creamy dressing to tame it.
Red Oak lettuce: Mild-flavored and tender, this lettuce has frilly, undulating leaves that form a large loose-leaf head.
Red Russian kale: Kale comes in a variety of colors and shapes, as well as leaf types. Some are thick and best served cooked, while the baby Red Russian kale is tender enough to eat raw in a salad.
Tatsoi: This tender oval-shaped green has a bit of spice and a beautiful small leaf and stalk that can be served whole. It’s great in salads or stir-fries.