There are some basic guidelines, but there
are few rules for making a salad. Just about any ingredient you can
think of can go into one: Eggs, meat, beans, grains, fruit, fish, nuts,
bread, and pasta are all fine salad ingredients. Some salads include
cooked ingredients; others are made up entirely of raw vegetables. Many
are served chilled, but some are best at room temperature.
To make a green salad, always buy the
freshest greens you can find. Look at the greens closely and take a
small taste if you can. Pass by any that are wilted, overly bitter,
limp, or browned. Remove the stems from small-leafed greens, such as
watercress, arugula, or young spinach, but leave the leaves whole. Trim
large-leaf greens, such as romaine or escarole, by tearing the leaves
along the central rib. Make sure that all greens are completely dry.
Excess water will prevent dressing from clinging to the leaves. Also,
serve green salads immediately after dressing because the acid in the
dressing will quickly wilt the leaves.
You can dry a large amount of greens by
placing them in a clean pillowcase and swing the case in wide circles,
like a propeller, to fling off excess water (you may need to do this
outside). Wilting greens can be refreshed by placing them in ice water
mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and refrigerate for 1 hour. Drain
well, wrap in toweling, and keep them bagged in the refrigerator for at
least 4 hours.