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Getting Intimate With Exotic Greens

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Never before has salad held so much mystery and intrigue. As consumers we've moved from pale and watery iceberg lettuce to the exotic world of red oak, Belgian endive, Asian tat soi, Italian raddichio and lollo rossa without even realizing it.

Never before has salad held so much mystery and intrigue. As consumers we've moved from pale and watery iceberg lettuce to the exotic world of red oak, Belgian endive, Asian tat soi, Italian raddichio and lollo rossa without even realizing it. Simply pick up some mixed greens in your grocery store, dump it into a bowl, and youve got a gourmet salad!

Fabulous good looks arent the only thing mixed lettuce brings to your table. Depending on the type, lettuce can be high in vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron, and beta-carotene. Bitter and mustard-tasting greens such as fris? arugula, and dandelion are particularly helpful for liver cleansing and for stimulating bile flow. Leaves with reddish hues and tinges, such as red oak, red Russian kale, and lollo rossa have the colourful carotene pigments that studies have shown are valuable in the prevention of heart disease, cancer, and the effects of aging. The chlorophyll in all deep green leafy lettuces fortifies the blood since the molecular structure of chlorophyll is nearly identical to that of hemoglobin.

Get to Know Whats in Your Salad Bowl

Arugula is a lively green colour and provides the tang of onions without the resulting bad breath. A pleasing peppery aftertaste.

Green and red oak leaves have rounded notches on the edges and a mild flavour that blends well with all salad greens.

Spinach is vitamin packed. The oval-shaped, vibrant green leaves offer a fine sweet flavour that is equally popular raw or cooked.

Tat soi leaves are shaped like teaspoons. Small and dark green leaves, their taste is only a little sweeter than spinach.

The mild flavour and crisp long leaves of red and green romaine form an excellent base for most salads, including the green romaine for traditional Caesar salad. The red romaine adds valuable carotenes.

Frisée is also known as curly endive (frisée means "curly" in French). This variety has fine, frilly pale green and white leaves. They can taste bitter or mild, depending on how young they are.

Lollo rossa leaves are Italian-passionate red throughout. The leaves have deep curls and a tinge of green at the base. This variety adds colour and a mild flavour, perfect for mixing with more flavourful leaves.

Mizuna has tender, dark green flat leaves with pointy edges down the side. A tangy flavour.

Radicchio's dense thick leaf is more like a cabbage, but with a much milder flavour. It is often speckled with deep red and white.

Fresh is Best

When selecting salads, make sure there is no browning, wilting or sogginess of the greens. Organic salad mix can be purchased prewashed and packaged in plastic bags or clamshell containers or in bulk.

Any way you look at them, the new salad mixes bring an international flair, sensational taste, gorgeous looks and healthy nutrients to your dinner table.

What is Mesclun?

Originating in Proven?, France, the original idea was to make a salad from a mix of greens (mesclun) that touches upon every taste and texture sensation: bitter, sweet, tangy, crunchy, and silky. Traditionally the recipe calls for chervil, arugula, lettuce, and endive in precise proportions, but nowadays mesclun mixes include greens such as mustards, cresses, and parsley as well as wild greens and all kinds of lettuces. A treat for the eyes as well as the tongue.

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