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Here’s Exactly How to Store Summer Salad Greens Until You Need Them

Here’s Exactly How to Store Summer Salad Greens Until You Need Them

No one likes seeing that slimy, bitter mess in the bottom of their crisper.

A decision to buy leafy greens is always made with the most optimistic of intentions. Only, before you know it, it’s a week later and you’re fishing a bag of sad, slimy leaves out of the bottom of your crisper drawer. So much for that salad. Sigh.

Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. So why do they go bad so quickly? “Leafy greens contain enzymes that, like every living thing, naturally age,” says Taylor Arnold, Ph.D., registered dietitian and assistant professor in Arizona. But the greens are more delicate than most other veggies—with a thinner, broader structure, so they're more open to attack. “The larger surface area is an easier target for microorganisms such as bacteria and mold,” Arnold explains.

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It’s this one-two punch that makes the delicate greens go bad before you know it.

But with a little bit of planning and the right tools at your disposal, you can extend the shelf life of your salad greens and rid yourself of that food waste guilt (and lost money). The result? A gorgeously delicious fresh and crispy salad you meant to make for Saturday’s dinner (but put off until Tuesday) can still be a reality.

A Few Simple Steps

Whether you buy your greens in bunches or the pre-packaged variety, the first step is always the same: sort through it and get rid of any greens that have gone bad (or are on the brink). As produce matures, it releases ethylene gas, which can speed up the aging process of the surrounding greens, says registered dietitian Amy Shapiro, R.D. Tossing the greens that are wilted, discolored, or slimy prevents them from single-handedly ruining the rest of the bunch.

Also, don’t wash or prep the greens until you’re ready to use them. This keeps moisture buildup to a minimum.

Steer clear of storing greens in a bag—when lettuces are clumped together and there’s not enough air circulation, the moisture can’t move, creating the ultimate hangout for bacteria, says registered dietitian Keith Ayoob, R.D. Plus, your greens are more susceptible to being bruised or squished by other foods this way.

The best way to protect and prolong the life of your greens is by storing them in a large container lined with damp—not dry, but not sopping—paper towels. “If you wrap the leaves in a totally dry paper towel, the moisture from the leaves will be absorbed more quickly, and the leaves dry out,” says Ayoob. They’ll still be edible, he explains, but will have lost their crispness. A damp paper towel will give your greens the humidity they need to stay crisp, while continuously wicking the excess moisture that causes rotting and mold.

Start by lining the bottom of your container—or the container the greens came in—with damp paper towel and layer your greens on top. Pack them loosely and do your best to keep the leaves from touching too much, as packing them tightly will make them more susceptible to bruising and rotting.

Place another damp paper towel on top of the leaves and continue to use light layers, ending the sequence with paper towel before popping the lid on. The paper towels will soak up the excess moisture, while the container will protect your greens from being exposed to too much air, says Morgan Statt, health and safety investigator for the site Consumer Safety.

Finally, where you store your leafy greens is just as important as how you store them, says Statt. Always keep your greens in your crisper drawer to protect it from any excess moisture that could speed up the wilting process, and in turn, maximize freshness.

Do Periodic Inspections

Each time you hit the fridge for a dose of greens, make a habit of checking to make sure the paper towels are still damp and that any iffy looking greens are disposed of. How often depends on the greens: Tougher stuff like kale, collards, and mustard greens last the longest. “They may not be as tender when raw, but that’s also what makes them longer-lasting,” says Ayoob. “Their tough, fibrous cell walls help prevent water loss.”

Meanwhile, leafy greens that are softer and contain more moisture—spinach, arugula, watercress—are easily damaged and more prone to wilting, says Shapiro.

When In Doubt, Freeze

If you know that you won’t be able to use up the rest of your greens before they expire, try blending them with water (or coconut water) and freezing them in an ice cube tray, says Arnold. You won't be able to make a salad from them, but you'll have tasty cubes you can add to your favorite smoothies.


How to Use Your Produce Before It Goes Bad

The best ways to use whatever fruits and vegetables you have on hand.

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By Regan Cafiso for Food Network Kitchen

You've dutifully stocked your fridge with loads of fresh fruits and veggies. But now you have much more produce than you could ever eat before it starts to turn bad. What's a home cook to do? Waste not, want not! With a little prep, you can extend the life of perishable produce for loads of delicious meals whenever you're ready to make them.

Leafy Greens

There's plenty to love about leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard, but they often go limp quickly. If your greens are starting to look a little sad, they can be saved. After cleaning, stir into a soup or saute with olive oil and garlic. For longer storage, blanch greens briefly in boiling salted water, then plunge into an ice bath. Squeeze dry and chop. Cooked greens can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.

Herbs

Fresh herbs add brightness and zing to dishes. Pesto is a classic way to use up an abundance. You can also freeze herbs flat on a sheet tray before wrapping and storing them in freezer bags. Tender herbs such as basil, parsley, tarragon and cilantro can be blended into a paste with some olive oil and frozen in ice cube trays. Transfer the cubes to a freezer bag to use in sauces and marinades. If you've missed the window to use them fresh, try microwaving them to make your own dried herbs.

Broccoli

Cut broccoli into florets, then blanch and shock just like leafy greens. To extend storage time, be sure to dry them well. Cooked broccoli will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. Or freeze cooked florets in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid. Store tightly wrapped in the freezer for up to 1 month. Use the same technique for asparagus and green beans.

Tomatoes

Give new life to Roma or cherry tomatoes that are past their prime: Halve them and spread in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and fresh herbs, then roast them low and slow — 250 degrees F — until they are shriveled and juicy. Store the slow-roasted tomatoes covered with olive oil in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Bananas

Break or slice peeled, ripe bananas into chunks and freeze in a single layer until solid. Store the frozen pieces in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Use frozen bananas in smoothies or "nice cream," or thaw them to use in banana bread or muffins.

Avocados

While you can't freeze whole avocados, you can mash and freeze them to add to smoothies or make guacamole on the fly. Simply pit them and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Immediately squeeze fresh lemon juice over and mash well. Scoop the mixture into a resealable plastic freezer bag and pat into an even layer. Press out excess air, seal and freeze for up to 1 month. *Avoid freezing guacamole — the onions and and tomatoes can get watery when thawed.

Berries

If your bounty of berries is looking a little sad, spread them on a baking sheet and freeze solid before transferring to a freezer bag. Use the frozen berries in smoothies and baked goods. You can also make a quick topping for pancakes, waffles or yogurt by cooking fresh berries and maple syrup on the stovetop. This keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Citrus

The juice of fresh citrus fruits can be frozen until you need it. After squeezing, freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays to add just the right amount of acidity to your dishes. Save fresh lime juice until you have enough for a batch of margaritas!

Peppers

Too many peppers? That's a good thing! Roast them over the flame of your gas stove burner or broil until they are blackened all over. Seal in a paper bag or covered bowl to cool, then clean away the charred skin, seeds and membranes. Slice the roasted peppers and mix with a little olive oil and minced garlic. Refrigerate marinated peppers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also freeze unseasoned roasted peppers in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Onions

Onions are a storage vegetable, which means they can keep for a long time when stored properly: at room temperature in a dark spot with good ventilation. Raw onion does not freeze well. If you find yourself with an abundance of onions, however, try caramelizing them — they'll keep for up to 5 days in the fridge or frozen for up to 2 months. We also love to chop up extra onions to cook into flavor bases with other aromatic vegetables like carrots and celery. These bases freeze well, and are the perfect starter for a future soup, stew, tomato sauce or pot of beans.


A salad for the last of summer’s bounty

Photo: Daytona Strong
This salad makes a nice complement to a meal, or dress it up with your favorite fresh veggies.

Daytona Strong
Taste of Norway Editor

When summer draws near to an end, I try to enjoy the last of the season’s produce as much as possible before the heartier ingredients of autumn replace them. There’s just something so wonderful about being able to eat vegetables with little to no cooking. With that in mind, I’m sharing with you today a salad I created a few years back to celebrate this moment before the shift in the seasons.

While you can follow it as-is, I like to think of this salad as an inspiration. Sure, you can feel free to follow the recipe exactly and use whatever ingredients you find at the grocery store. But if you have access to a market and are able to find some gorgeous greens and need something inspiring to do with them, then this salad might be just the inspiration you’re looking for.

Seasonal Greens with Cucumber and Almond

This recipe originally appeared in my article, “Nordic in the Northwest,” in the Sept. 3, 2013, issue of The Oregonian.

dressing:
2 tbsps. white wine vinegar
½ tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsps. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. fresh dill, roughly chopped

salad:
5 oz. mixed greens
1 3-in. piece cucumber (unpeeled), very thinly sliced
¼ cup slivered almonds
fresh dill, for garnish

To make dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and salt. Continuing to whisk, gradually pour in the oil until combined. Add the chopped dill and give it a quick stir.

In a medium bowl, toss the mixed greens with the dressing. Divide between four plates and arrange the cucumber slices attractively on top of each and sprinkle almonds over the top. Garnish with dill and serve immediately.

From simple side salads to ones hearty enough to make a meal, we’ve published a number of salad recipes at The Norwegian American over the years. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find on our website. Just head over to www.norwegianamerican.com and search for “salad” to find these and other delicious recipes.

Norwegian Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette, by Christy Olsen Field, was published on Aug. 21, 2015: www.norwegianamerican.com/food/salad-for-dinner-nordic-flavors-in-a-refreshing-salad

Chanterelle, Fig, and Blue Cheese Salad, by Daytona Strong, was published on Sept. 22, 2017: www.norwegianamerican.com/food/salad-changing-season

Smoked Mackerel Salad with Radishes and Vinegary Cucumbers, by Daytona Strong, was published on June 29, 2018: www.norwegianamerican.com/food/salad-satisfying-enough-meal

Kale Salad with Lemon, Almonds, and Nordic Cheese by Daytona Strong, was published on Feb. 15, 2013: www.norwegianamerican.com/featured/a-salad-with-a-taste-of-history

This article originally appeared in the September 7, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.


Mistake: Chopping greens with a knife

Amanda Torres, the executive chef of Paulette's Public Market in Chicago, says that if you chop your greens with a knife, you risk bruising them.

How to fix it: "When prepping greens, pull them apart instead of chopping with a knife," says Torres. Using this strategy means you won't bruise the greens and they'll hold up longer.

Whatever you do, be sure to avoid these 10 Foods You Should Never Add to Your Salad.


The Best Lentil Salad, Ever

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted this recipe before. With picnic season in full swing here, I suddenly realized that I’ve been keeping this unbelievable salad recipe all to myself! This dish is probably one of the most-cooked meals in my household, and in my opinion, the only lentil salad recipe you will ever need . I love it so much in fact, it’s being served at my wedding in August. Enough said.
This dish was first served to me by my fabulous friend Mia who is a phenomenal cook in her own right, and I love going to her house to eat because she has such a beautiful understanding of how to make healthy food taste amazing. She also purchases very high quality ingredients, and is not afraid to experiment in the kitchen – two qualities I admire very much.

This lentil salad recipe is no exception. The flavours of this dish are totally outstanding, yet unexpected. The ingredient list may seem a little long, but after closer inspection you’ll notice that it is mostly just spices, ten of them to be exact. It is this special combination of flavours that creates a truly remarkable salad that is lip-smackingly tasty and totally addictive.
I should also mention that this salad is the perfect picnic food, as it transports well and is a superb make-ahead meal – ten times tastier the day after! It keeps in the fridge very well for 2-3 days.

The star of the show is the delectable “Du Puy” lentil, sometimes referred to as “the poor man’s caviar”. Du Puy lentils are quite a bit smaller than green or brown lentils, and are revered for their ability to retain their shape after being cooked. Green, brown, and red lentils are great in soups because they are soft, mushy, and tend to fall apart, but those would be less-than-perfect choices for a sophisticated salad. Du Puy lentils work better in salads than in soups and stews because they tend to be a little more robust, and when cooked properly, they will retain just a little tooth. You can find these lovely legumes at any quality grocery store, natural food, or health food store, just make sure they say Du Puy – otherwise they are a French lentil knockoff. Sacré bleu!

Fill up on Folate
Lentils are one of the yummiest sources of folate (also know as folic acid) – just one cup of cooked lentils provides you with almost 90% of your daily recommended intake! And why is folate so important? You’ve probably heard about this vital vitamin in regards to pregnancy, as it is critical in the prevention of birth defects. Folate also functions to support red blood cell production and help prevent anemia, allows nerves to function properly, helps prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures, and helps prevent dementias including Alzheimer’s disease.

Folate received its name from the Latin word folium, meaning “foliage”, so it’s not wonder that other excellent sources of folate are dark leafy greens (yum, your favorite!) – kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, parsley, and collards to name a few. This may explain why North American diets seem to be on the deficient end of things when it comes to this B-vitamin, as folic acid is available from fresh, unprocessed food. The good news is it is easily absorbed, used, and stored by the body. Folic acid is also manufactured by intestinal bacteria (remember those probiotics?), so if colon flora is healthy, we have another good source of folic acid.

The Best Lentil Salad, Ever
Ingredients:
2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or other dried fruit)
1/3 cup capers

Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. strong mustard
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Optional add-ins:
Arugula
Walnuts
Goat cheese
Fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, basil
Sprouts
Crispy seasonal veggies

Directions:
1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they still retain a slight tooth – al dente! Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish. Be careful!
2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large.
4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add other onion, capers, and currants. If using other add-ins such as herbs, greens, or cheese, wait until just before serving. Otherwise, this salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.


What factors affect poisoning?

  • the part of the plant ingested,
  • the maturation of the plant,
  • the amount of the plant ingested,
  • and the physical condition and age of the individual affected.

Are certain groups more at risk?

As with most anything that is potentially harmful, the extremely young and old, as well as those with a compromised immune system and/or organ problems, are more likely to have the most pronounced ill effects from exposure to the pokeweed. This is also true of many other foods, like sushi, for example.

If you are pregnant, this plant should definitely be added to the long list of things you simply don’t handle or consume in any way, shape, or form. It is believed the pokeweed’s toxins can penetrate the womb and cause a number of problems, including birth defects. The same can be said for pregnant women eating or handling many raw foods.

What does pokeweed poisoning look like?

Recovery from a light poisoning can be expected in 1 to 2 days, and symptoms can be as mild as a touch of stomach cramping and diarrhea. That being said, as with any poisoning, medical assistance should be sought regardless of the perceived severity of the symptoms.

More severe cases of pokeweed poisoning will manifest themselves with an emetic (vomiting) response in as little as two hours after ingestion. Other signs of poisoning include a burning sensation in the mouth and blood in vomit and diarrhea of the affected.

In cases of pokeweed-related death, the respiratory system and organs simply become paralyzed and cease to function.

Can you get pokeweed poisoning by touching it?

Whether weeding or harvesting, it is also of note that a pokeweed, especially a mature one, can penetrate skin with contact. In addition, there is some evidence that contact with the weed can be carcinogenic. Because of this, one should always use gloves when handling pokeweed.

Are the toxins completely gone after you cook it?

Like with alcohol or sushi or beef that is not well done, regardless of how it is handled or prepared, trace amounts of toxins will likely be present, but healthy bodies should be able to handle them with ease.

Are you properly terrified yet?

As bad as these possible side-effects can sound, please keep in mind that none of these threats are uncommon in a number of things that most of us routinely prepare and consume.

With proper precaution, sickness due to pokeweed is unlikely. In comparison, handling a piece of pork that happens to contain a particularly bad strain of trichinosis is arguably more dangerous.

I&aposm Ready. How Do I Harvest and Prepare This Stuff?


CHOPPED VEGETABLE SALAD

Keep it light and healthy with this chopped vegetable salad with fresh summer vegetables and zesty, lip smacking lemon-garlic dressing! It’s quick, easy and customizable.

  • Author:Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 1 x
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber (about 2 cups ), chopped
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped
  • handful grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ¼ red onion, diced (or 2 – 3 scallions, sliced)
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium lemon, juice of
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon or stoneground mustard
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons water
  • himalayan salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper or lemon pepper, to taste

Instructions

Dressing: In a small bowl combine the dressing ingredients and mix well, set aside.

Assemble salad: In a large bowl, add the cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes and onion. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss gently to coat.

Chill: Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or enjoy at room temperature.

Serve: Salad can be enjoyed as is, or served on a bed of leafy greens or whole grain pasta..

Store: Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days in an airtight container.

Notes

To make this a 100% alkalizing salad, squeeze lemon and add a sprinkle of cumin….or combine grated ginger and the juice of one orange…so fresh and good!

This salad is a great place to add a sprinkle of sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

Did you make this recipe?

Updated: Chopped Vegetable Salad was originally published in September 2012. It has been retested and updated with new photos and helpful tips in January 2021.

FOLLOW TSV on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or RSS for more updates and inspiration!

NEVER MISS A RECIPE!


37 Healthier Dressings, Spreads, and Marinades to Sauce Up Your Life

Dressings, condiments, and marinades add some kick to our plates. But when it’s super simple to just pour them out of bottles, the nutrition labels might point to several reasons why store-bought options aren’t the best idea: They add empty calories, sugar, and sodium.

That’s three uninvited dinner party guests to turn away at the door. Instead, make your own — it’s super easy and way better for you.

Here are 37 recipes to make dressing that salad a little healthier, slathering that burger bun a little more wholesome, and marinating that meat a little more natural.

Give your salad a funky top hat.

1. Olive oil

Sometimes all a salad needs is a drizzle of some really good olive oil. A little fat is never a bad thing.

In fact, research actually found that full-fat salad dressings may help the body better absorb certain nutrients (specifically carotenoids). Goltz SR, et al. (2012). Meal triacylglycerol profile modulates postprandial absorption of carotenoids in humans. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mnfr.201100687

Extra virgin olive oil (aka EVOO, the purest form of olive oil) typically has the best flavor and is top-notch when used in its raw form.

Plus, it’s high in omega-3s, including oleic acid. These play an essential role in keeping brain cells healthy. It’s also high in phytochemicals, antioxidants that may help people prevent some types of cancer. Ranjan A, et al. (2019). Role of phytochemicals in cancer prevention. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834187/

2. Fruit n’ nut delight

There’s nothing better than making a dressing packed with whole-foods! It’s like adding more nutrition via your sauce.

Get all the benefits of whole-fruit and nuts by mixing them into a dressing. The addition of nuts also creates creaminess while adding some heart-healthy fats and fiber.

  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh fruit
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

3. Mighty avocado dressing

It’s no secret that here at Greatist that we’re huge fans of the mighty avocado.

The creaminess of the avocado makes for a great texture without adding too much oil, and the flavor adds richness and depth to any salad.

You can add a rich, tangy touch to any crunchy salad with a mix of:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (we choose Greek yogurt!)
  • 1/4 diced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • some other spices

4. Roasted tomato vinaigrette

Any dressing that has another serving of whole vegetables gets an A+ in our books.

The addition of whole roasted tomatoes to this dressing recipe not only adds tons of great nutrients but also achieves an awesome hearty texture.

Plus, tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a carotenoid (antioxidant) that’s been associated with everything from a reduced risk of prostate cancer, Fraser GE. (2020). Tomato consumption and intake of lycopene as predictors of the incidence of prostate cancer: The adventist health study-2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10552-020-01279-z all the way to preventing cardiovascular disease. Mozos I, et al. (2020). Lycopene and vascular health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974099/

  • 12 ounces plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

It’s a perfect topper for a green salad or roasted veggies or meat.

5. Cheat-sheet buttermilk ranch

Ranch dressing is one of those classic childhood favorites (or maybe late-night college pizza flavors?) that piques our indulgence every once in a while.

But the kind from the bottle, typically packed with buttermilk, oil and egg yolks, and in some cases added sugar, thickeners, and preservatives, isn’t exactly an everyday treat.

  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon non-fat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cup chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic

You can replace that classic flavor any night of the week (guilt-free).

6. Classic lemon vinaigrette

Emeril Lagasse has it right with this one. His salt-free recipe recreates that classic French vinaigrette flavor without maxing out your daily sodium intake.

What’s the trick? There is none. Just mush together the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, including parsley, tarragon, chives, and oregano
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • lemon and lime zest
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil

7. Sweet honey dressing

Sometimes fruit needs a little dressing too, right?

Try blending up the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or agave)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • the juice from 1/2 a lemon

You get the sweetness and the citrus kick, as well as the richness of the yogurt.

8. Green goddess

This classic avocado dressing is perfect for summer (well, it’s perfect anytime, but the mint and cilantro give it a summery tang).

  • the meat of 1 avocado
  • 1 1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (tarragon, mint, parsley, and cilantro work well)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar until smooth.

9. Maple mustard dressing

Tangy. Sweet. Who doesn’t love the combo of maple and mustard?

This dressing is the perfect combo and goes well with any hearty salad —especially mixed greens with goat cheese, pecans, and beets.

Plus it’s easy to throw together. Just blend up:

  • 2 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup walnut or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • sprinkling of salt and pepper

(Yes, this is a personal favorite!)

10. Easy apricot

Here’s another recipe that uses fresh fruit for a powerful effect.

A chopped, whole apricot forms the base of this dressing along with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon Dijon mustard, making this salad dressing a perfect mash-up of sweet and savory.

You’ll also need to throw in:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • 7 drops stevia
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

And by using fresh fruit, you eliminate the need for added sugar, which puts it head and shoulders above many bottled dressings.

11. Ginger carrot dressing

The delicious orange pulpy dressing that coats Japanese-inspired restaurants’ green salad has a secret.

You ready? It’s white miso paste!

  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (measuring about 2 inches)
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup canola oil

12. Classic honey mustard

We’ll dip anything in honey mustard dressing. Chicken fingers? Done. Fries? Absolutely. Apple slices? Hey, don’t judge!

The replacement’s simple, with just four ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

13. Simply citrus

Fresh citrus juice is a perfect accompaniment to greens. It just makes them pop. A mix of juices (orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lime) is what makes this dressing even more special that your average.

Combine 3 tablespoons of each citrus juice with 1 1/2 cups olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Shake or whisk the whole shebang until it’s well combined.

If your salad’s full of nuts, you’ll absolutely love drizzling this zingy concoction over the top.

14. Lemon Caesar

Perhaps the most ubiquitous of any salad dressing, the classic Caesar can certainly take a toll on any healthy diet (it is a dangerfood, after all).

Instead of the classic egg yolk-based dressing, try this combo as a healthy alternative:

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • a dash of pepper

This makes 2—3 servings, so why not share the Caesar love.

15. Yogurt herb Dijon spread

Non-fat Greek yogurt is a great way to get a creamy dressing without the extra fat (and it adds an extra dose of protein to boot).

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs

Serve this alongside veggie sticks or toasted pita and watch the mmmms roll in.

16. Ketchup

Even though the shelf-stable varieties might not be such a healthy choice (most are packed with sugar/ high-fructose corn syrup, and all), this popular tomato-based condiment is actually pretty healthy.

Try this simple recipe made with a base of tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, and a handful of spices.

17. Horseradish sauce

Bloody Mary lovers rejoice! Horseradish is packed with glucosinolates, compounds that also run rampant in cruciferous veggies (like cauliflower).

They are associated with reduced cancer-related damage to the lungs and stomach by carcinogens. Maina S, et al. (2020). Human, animal and plant health benefits of glucosinolates and strategies for enhanced bioactivity: A systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7464879/ They may potentially enhance your body’s protection against some cancers.

While its sauce has less of a nutritious kick than, say, chomping on raw horseradish, it’s a far more pleasant experience. To make your own, you just need a horseradish root, water, vinegar, and salt.

18. Hot sauce

This bad boy’s OK to get out of the bottle.

Capsaicin is the star of this spicy sauce. It’s what gives chili peppers their heat and can boost metabolism.

Plus, some studies suggest that this compound can help the body use fat as fuel more effectively. Rogers J, et al. (2018). Capsaicinoids supplementation decreases percent body fat and fat mass: Adjustment using covariates in a post hoc analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088424/

So, if you can handle the hot ones, why not?

19. Avocado spread

This might be the simplest “spread” out there. Here are the steps:

That’s it. Job done. Put your feet up, weary traveller, for you have nailed the avocado spread.

Pro tip: Adding a few drops of lemon or lime juice keeps the color bright.

Because of its high (healthy) fat content, mashed avocado makes a great substitute for creamy sandwich spreads, like mayonnaise. Plus, it’s a great source of omega-3s.

20. Hummus

Hummus is another great alternative to mayo. It’s just as creamy, even more flavorful, and offers a little extra protein and fiber.

Just be careful not to overdo it! More than 1 tablespoon or 2 and this spread can get a little calorie-heavy.

21. Vanilla almond butter

When you want a high fiber, protein-packed snack, try using this vanilla almond butter on the classic PB&J instead of the standard peanut butter.

This recipe uses only five ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 2 cups roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons honey

Take all that with a pinch of salt (literally) and blend it.

22. Pesto

Basic pesto can turn any panini or grilled cheese into something a bit fancier

  • 2 bunches fresh basil
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup of EVOO

Blend them until smooth and… hey presto! Pesto.

If you’re not so crazy about the pungent garlic flavor, roast it first.

23. Green mayo

Ewwww, what? Don’t run away just yet, though.

We’re not so crazy about mayonnaise by itself, but throwing in a dose of greens makes anything a bit healthier (for those who really can’t get enough mayo) (there’s definitely such a thing as enough mayo, by the way).

Check out this recipe, which takes the classic base for homemade mayonnaise and adds:

  • 75 grams spinach
  • 40 grams watercress
  • 40 grams parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chives

Throw in a splash of lemon juice and a dash of salt and pepper, and this one comes with the Greatist seal of approval.

24. Cranberry orange thyme sauce

When it’s thyme to relive Thanksgiving with one of those turkey cranberry sauce sandwiches (or make use of the leftovers), reach for this fresh cranberry classic.

Flavored with thyme (hence the pun in the opening sentence) and sweetened with orange juice and honey, this cranberry sauce goes great with poultry any time of the year.


TEST KITCHEN

RECIPES

*Emily's Purloined Beet and Lentil Salad

WHEN DOMENICA AND I WERE TALKING about some of our favorite salads, I realized that even though I love cool, refreshing leafy green salads any time of the year and any time of day, when it gets a little colder I start to unconsciously focus on salads with no lettuce at all. I hadn’t noticed that my body is still attuned to the plan the planet and its seasons made for us. Which is not to say that I’m not going to stuff myself with as much green salad as possible this winter. But if leafy salad is like a drug, or one of those SAD lamps, my super-easy beet and lentil salad is like a heavy Irish wool sweater and a rocking chair on a breezy porch in the fall: both cozy and bracing. I’ve been making this dish since I lived in NYC in the 90s. I think I found it in a copy of the sadly defunct Metropolitan Home magazine (I am pretty sure?), but I didn’t write it down and this recipe is what I cobbled together. So it’s purloined. Every time I have a recipe whose provenance I can’t recall, I credit it to Metropolitan Home, because the food coverage was excellent. I am certain, though, that it was served by an extremely attractive young couple at their homespun, outdoor, boho wedding. If you do not like beets, like my friend Mary Norris (whose Greek Salad was in Issue #2 of DOS), possibly because your mother served you canned ones and called them “nice beets” (also like my friend Mary Norris), try this recipe, please. Canned and oven-roasted are not even in the same universe.

6 medium beets, unpeeled, scrubbed, trimmed

1 medium onion (red or yellow), quartered lengthwise, sliced into 1/3 inch slices

20 basil leaves, 18 or so torn, 2 or so thinly sliced (chiffonade) for serving

freshly ground black pepper

2 cups lentils (I like a mix of belugas and French greens), picked over and rinsed (you can use more if you like a higher lentil-to-beet ratio, but increase the stock by another cup to start)

My Usual Mustard Vinaigrette (below)*

Preheat oven to 425. Place whole beets into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish strew with onion slices, basil leaves, crushed garlic. Drizzle with olive oil salt, pepper. Add water to pan.

Cover pan tightly with foil, bake without uncovering, for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

While beets are roasting, place lentils in another 13x9x2-inch pan with 5 cups of the stock, tightly covered with foil. After the beets have cooked for 45 minutes, place lentils in oven. Check lentils after 30 minutes. (Be careful! Hot stock may slosh out). If stock has been absorbed and lentils are tender, remove with beets. Otherwise, continue to cook another 15 minutes or so, adding more stock if necessary to prevent lentils from burning.

Meanwhile, make My Usual Mustard Vinaigrette (below)*

Allow beets and lentils to cool, uncovered. (Drain any excess broth from lentils if necessary.) Remove beets from pan, reserving remaining beet-juice-onion-basil mixture. Peel, cut into 1-inch chunks combine with lentils and juice-onion-basil mixture in a large bowl. Toss with about half jar of My Usual Mustard Vinaigrette,* more or less to taste. Adjust salt and pepper. I go very easy on extra salt. Serve at room temperature, topped with fresh basil chiffonade.

*RECIPE: My Usual Mustard Vinaigrette

1. In a jar, stir together 8 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper. Place the lid on the jar, and shake vigorously, until emulsified.

*RECIPE: A Green Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado

HERE’S ANOTHER SALAD I’VE BEEN MAKING FOREVER from my book “The Comfort Food Diaries.” (You haven’t read it? Why not?) I give it to you here not just because it’s absolutely freaking delicious, but because I know that some of you don’t think you’ve been given salad ideas unless leaves are involved. Plus: when are you not hankering for something green and tonic? Which is exactly what this is.

Tip: if you’ve never “supremed” citrus fruit, learning to do so will change your life. This Williams-Sonoma video will teach you exactly the way I learned. Do this over a bowl to catch the juice, which is good mixed with seltzer.

Serves 2-4 depending on how much everyone likes salad

1 cup or so torn herbs (a combination of mint and basil is my favorite), washed and dried, tough stems removed

1 or 2 pink grapefruits, depending on size, peeled and sectioned (or supremed)

1/3 small red onion, cut into very thin slivers, or finely chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon)

Several big handfuls of thoroughly washed and dried greens—I use an assortment of mostly bitter (choose from watercress, arugula, radicchio, endive, even slivers of kale) but also soft (Boston, Bibb, or even tender red leaf lettuce)

1 or 2 avocados (alligator, not the giant shiny ones), peeled and cubed (do this last)

My Usual Mustard Vinaigrette (above)*

Place the grapefruit sections and onion in a small bowl, and pour a good bit of the dressing (My Usual Mustard Vinaigrette, above*) over it toss gently and let it sit at room temperature while you tear the greens into bite-size pieces if they need it and make a chiffonade of the herbs reserve a few shreds for garnish.

Once you’re ready to serve, place the greens and herbs in a large serving bowl, arrange the fruit mixture attractively in the middle, sprinkle on the freshly cut avocado, and decorate it all with the reserved herbs and a little of the red onion. When you get it to the table, and everyone has seen how pretty it looks, fold it all together gently.

NOTE: The dressing on the grapefruit and onions should be enough, but taste it after tossing and adjust. You can always bring extra dressing to the table in a little crystal cruet. Or in the drippy jar.

TASTE TEST: Pre-mades and Kits

BEING THE SELF-PROCLAIMED DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SALAD is a huge responsibility. You’re welcome.

I just want people to eat more salad, even if it means buying them pre-made or in a kit at the grocery store—or getting them at the drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant. Not everything can be homemade. And aside from ordering take-out (which I hope those of you who can afford it will do as often as possible in order to help save restaurants), buying some of these is a decent option. We all do what we can when it comes to feeding ourselves on this soul-annihilating planet. And who am I to object to anything someone else eats? (I do this all the time, but I’m not proud of it.)

So, this week we begin testing some of these convenience versions, in an occasional but ongoing attempt to help you weed through the good and the bad and get more salad into your pie hole.

The first grocery store salad kit I tried was by a company called Eat Smart, and had the words “100 % Clean” stamped on the front. This, of course, is the same kind of ridiculous gobbledygook as “immune boosting” foods. I mean: how can you assert something that is nonsensical to begin with? This company get points for their concern about saving me from “dirty” food. But I took points off when I discovered that Eat Smart is subsidiary of a company called Curation that also distributes guacamole that you squeeze from a tube.

Eat Smart Strawberry Harvest salad kit: very sad.

I should just go right ahead and say that I’m never buying this particular salad, which contained 10 ounces of salad and cost $3.34, again. I should have just said that right off the bat, but it feels unfair not to explain why. First, it was called “Strawberry Harvest,” which implies that someone somewhere picked a few strawberries. And perhaps someone did—but this bag was filled, perversely, with zero strawberries and a shredded jumble of tired but crunchy vegetable shavings (kale, broccoli stems, carrots, cabbages), packets of wan feta, slivered almonds, and crisp quinoa—all to be tossed and topped with a “strawberry” “vinaigrette” that was viscous and super sweet, with a long Lucky Charms finish. I’m assuming the dressing, whose second ingredient was sugar, was supposed to be a stand-in for fruit. I’m fine with sweet dressings, but this bad one was doing most of the work here as far as flavor goes. I’d eat this again only if I had been trapped in the elevator of a high-rise office building over a long weekend and it was the only thing my rescuers thought to bring. Rating: 1 star out of 5, but mainly just for showing up.

Next Week, I’ll tell you about a couple of pretty dang good Trader Joe’s salads I tried, which was a bit of a treat for me. I live an hour and a half from a Trader Joe’s. I love Trader Joe’s. Denigrate it all you want, food snobs. I don’t care. I LOVE it.

Favorite Things

A FEW DAYS AGO on social media, I mentioned the mustard I use for my vinaigrettes, and people seemed to be glad to have that information. So now I’m telling you:

My everyday mustard is Trader Joe Dijon with White Wine. It’s really made in Dijon, France, but I don’t care about that. I care about the fact that for everyday use it is just right: mellow, with the sharpness of a touch of horseradish but no truly sharp edges, if that makes sense. I’ll take it over Grey Poupon and not just because it cost $1.69 for 13 ounces. But that helps.

My everyday olive oil is California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Everyday Blend. It tastes great—nice and grassy, slightly floral— but not so great that I don’t want to use it for cooking. You can get it at the grocery store or order it. This is the olive oil that a lot of “foodies” like. But some of you are not “foodies”—I hope. (The California Olive Ranch website has a private sale of limited reserve coming up on November 16, and I may splurge on a bottle.) Someone recently asked me if I use imported olive oil from France or Italy or Greece, and my answer was: absolutely, if someone brings me back a fancy bottle from France or Italy or Greece. And then I treat it like Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. I’d love to upgrade, but until then this is my happy go-to.

My everyday salts (yes, I have everyday salts) are also food-folk favorites. Truly everyday is Morton’s Coarse Kosher Salt: it tastes good. Just buy it. And my fancier everyday, which I have to buy in a giant 3 1/2 pound bucket because my grocery store out here in the sticks doesn’t carry it, is Maldon Sea Salt. It is softly crunchy and flaky and tastes so gentle, like the ocean, that I could eat it right out of the box.

This bucket has a handle and makes a cool purse after you finish with the salt.

It’s exactly what you want when salt is more of an actual ingredient in a dish—sprinkled on sliced summer tomatoes or to finish just about anything. I use it as if it’s not expensive when I have it, in and on everything. And, of course, it’s great with sweets, like dark chocolate cookies or anything caramel—a few flakes on top. You don’t have to buy the bucket (which has a strap in case you want to carry it around like a purse). Most urban grocers sell it in small boxes. Since I buy so much at one time, I take a cupful to friends when I visit, in a jar or ziplock bag.

YOUR LETTERS! Thanks to everyone for your comments here, and also for the incredibly kind e-mails, all of which I love and plan to answer. I’ll figure out how to do forums/community threads, so you can request specific salad recipes—I’m open to suggestions of all kinds— and chat amongst yourselves. I have other ideas in this arena. More soon.

NEXT WEEK: Our Chef Salad will be from American food expert Gabrielle Langholtz. And isn’t it time we talked about: Green Goddess Dressing? Plus, a bitter green salad with bacon and pecans that will be perfect for America’s Loneliest Thanksgiving Ever. You may have noticed I’ve skipped the BOOKS section again this week, so expect that next week but don’t get your hopes up. I get carried away in the kitchen. See you soon.


Related Article

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on February 26, 2018:

Use a slotted spoon or strainer ladle, and you won&apost need to use a salad spinner.

Thanks for writing, Connie. And good luck with your greens!

connie on February 26, 2018:

Once the greens are blanched and at room temp do you have to run them through a salad spinner to get out excess moisture to prevent freezer burn?

Bruce & Janna on September 23, 2016:

try adding bacon to your greens mmmm we love it. spinach, collards, and even our green beans when cooking them from frozen or canned.

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on June 21, 2012:

Yes, it&aposs the easiest -- and most effective -- method I know.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Rhonda on June 21, 2012:

Thank you SO much for this alternative to the wash/blanch/ice water bath way. This takes hardly anytime at all and the greens look way better too. Thanks again.

Woody on May 31, 2012:

I like to fry in bacon greese with ounion. then dont forget the cornbread. yum

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on May 26, 2012:

I&aposm picking greens in the morning -- some will go in the freezer and some will be a part of our dinner.

I&aposm glad to,hear you&aposre going to try this technique for preserving greens. It&aposs easy, and the greens taste fresh, even many months after you&aposve frozen them.

Cindi on May 26, 2012:

Our family loves greens! They are so nutritious and yummy. We just joined a CSA so this week we&aposll have a lot on hand and I&aposll freeze a lot of them as you described. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on May 16, 2012:

Yes, that&aposs right. I&aposve tried the method you&aposre writing about, and my approach is SO much easier and faster. The greens taste great out of the freezer using the method I&aposve described above. You&aposll love it.

Jenny on May 15, 2012:

Are you saying you cover them with water, set them on the stove and DON&aposT boil them? Just cook them until they are no longer stiff? Then let them cool in the pot you cooked them in with the water?

I just started doing this last week and did the whole boiling, ice water thing so I just want to make sure I understand exactly what you are saying before doin this.

linda dry on May 01, 2012:

I have always blanched my turnip greens,cooled them down . then bagged them in freezer bags. they have always been wonderful. But stacking them was a problem i might try your wilting process

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on April 01, 2012:

Yes, I always use the stems for chard. They freeze beautifuly. Best of all? They taste fresh when defrosted.

AKM on April 01, 2012:

For chard, can you leave the stems on? I usually use the whole leaf with the stem when fresh, and I hate to waste. Thanks for sharing this method. It sounds so much easier than the boil then flash chill in ice water method. Thank you.

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on March 21, 2012:

I put a little of the liquid into the freezer bag with the greens. It adds flavor and provides cooking liquid for when I defrost them later for a meal.

Good luck with your greens!

Girty on March 21, 2012:

Do you drain the water from the greens before bagging?

Hilda on December 09, 2011:

Add salt to the water when washing them, this will kill any insects on them. I used to freeze greens all the time, until I started canning. this is the best way to keep greens. delicious

meryl steinberg on November 20, 2011:

Thanks Buster. Now I can buy more from my farmer&aposs market. One farmer brings his stuff in very fresh. I always hate wasting. Just prepared a batch for Thanksgiving so it will be "fresh" on Thursday.

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on November 02, 2011:

I usually don&apost. It doesn&apost take long to wilt the greens, then I take the pot off of the heat.

big mama on November 01, 2011:

do you put a lid on the pot during the wilting process?

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on October 06, 2011:

I think it&aposs fantastic that more and more people are discovering the pleasure (and health benefits) of growing their own food.

You&aposre going to be surprised at how fresh-tasting your greens will be out of the freezer this winter. It&aposs like opening up a li&aposl bit of summer in the midst of the cold.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

AKGardener on October 05, 2011:

This is my first year growing collard greens in Alaska. It&aposs vitally important that we grow things we can preserve, and I&aposm so glad this site showed me how! I had a bumper crop and I couldn&apost possibly have eaten it fast enough. It&aposll be a God send in the dead of winter to have nice fresh greens to eat, rather than wilty vegetables from the store. thanks!

Eloise Hope from Portland, Oregon, USA on August 09, 2011:

Thank you for this article. I appreciated the specific instructions flattening the bags seems obvious, but I&aposve frozen the lumpy, unstackable bags, too! Great idea to simply flatten in an open freezer area, then stack somewhere once flat.

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 05, 2011:

Yes, I think the method described here works best, and you get to keep more of the vitamins and nutrients in the process.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write to me.

Eva on August 05, 2011:

Thanks for the tips. I wish I came across your page couple weeks earlier before I started to freeze my greens. I was always unhappy with the amount of water for blanching and the loss of all the nutrients. Your suggestion is great. I have a lot of greens still to freeze, so will use your suggestions. Thanks again. :)

Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on June 17, 2011: