Grown all over the world, the most delicate greens tend to have a sweet flavor and tender texture. From oakleaf to mâche, mesclun greens to classic Bibb and butter (Boston) lettuce, there are many choices at local markets. Spring and autumn are the best times to look for young greens at the farmers’ market; they star in simple salads with only a few ingredients and less acidic vinaigrettes.
Choose heads of lettuce that are heavy for their size. Avoid any with wilted, torn or browned leaves.
Store loose greens unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Rinse the leaves just before serving and, if needed, let soak 10 minutes in cold water to refresh and crisp them.
Wash greens by immersing them in a large bowl filled with cold water. To avoid diluting their flavor and to allow dressings to coat the leaves well, dry lettuces well in a salad spinner or shake them gently in a clean kitchen towel. Tear large leaves individually instead of cutting the heads to avoid discoloring or crushing their leaves, and dress them lightly just before serving.
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