Salad greens include an array of leaves, often loosely termed ‘salad greens’, which are included in salad greens mixes.
Some varieties, such as rocket and watercress, are sold separately.
Mesclun is the French term given to a mixture of tender young gourmet salad greens. Mesclun contains combinations of salad leaves and herbs that will vary with the time of year and from brand to brand.
Sometimes baby cavolo nero, a variety of kale with blackish dark green leaves is added to mixes.
Edible flowers are sometimes added to salad mixes.
Young spinach leaves are often used in salad mixes and sold with other salad greens. Baby spinach has round to oblong leaves with a mild flavour. Spinach is particularly nutrient dense with a wide range of health benefits.
Pea shoots (dau miu)
These are the tender tips off young pea shoots. They are sweet and succulent.
Radicchio leaves are red, slightly bitter and have a nutty flavour.
This is an Asian cabbage that is used in salads of all kinds when very young. It has a very mild cabbage flavour.
These young leaves are green with red veins. They have a faint beet-like flavour and are especially good in warm salads.
These young leaves have a faint sharp mustard flavour and are especially good with mizuna and other young leaves. The small leaves, while being predominantly red on the upper side, have green colouring on the under side.
Like red mustard, there are many different varieties of green mustard available and leaf shape varies considerably. Flavour also varies from mild to intense.
Rocket (roquette, arugula)
Rocket has dark green, deeply lobed leaves and has a spicy piquant flavour. It is ideal to mix with other lettuce leaves and is commonly found in commercially available lettuce leaf mixes.
These dark green leaves have a peppery taste. The leaves and thin stalks can be used raw.
Wild rocket (wild italian arugula or wild European rocket)
Wild rocket has thinner leaves and a more intense spicy piquant flavour than rocket.
Like rocket, mizuna has a spicy piquant flavour, is great mixed with other lettuce leaves and is commonly found in commercially available lettuce leaf mixes. Mizuna is medium green with deeply jagged leaves.
Mibuna is similar in taste to mizuna but it has a slightly stronger flavour. The leaves are smooth edged.
Lambs lettuce (corn salad, mache)
Lambs lettuce is very succulent with a delicate flavour and smoothly textured green leaves.
Frisee, also called curled endive, has finely dissected edges and is used in salads. It is slightly bitter and provides an attractive ‘coral’ appearance in mesclun mixes.
What to look for
Choose clean, crisp leaves.
Refrigerate in plastic bags or in the crisper. Make sure the leaves aren't squashed. Use promptly.
How to prepare
Remove any coarse or wilted leaves. If necessary soak for a few minutes in warm water before refrigerating for 20 minutes to freshen up the leaves.
Ways to eat
Use raw in salads, sandwiches or garnish. Experiment as several of the varieties taste good when lightly blanched and served in a warm salad.
Salad greens have a similar nutritional content to lettuce, however, varieties such as rocket are richer in vitamin A (from beta-carotene). Some are also a source or good sources of vitamin A, selected B vitamins and some minerals. They are also low in energy (kilojoules). Salad greens provide a range of phytonutrients depending on the mix of leaves but include carotenoids (rocket, baby spinach), anthocyanins (red coloured leaves) and glucosinolates (leaves from the brassica family such as tat soi, chard, mustard and rocket).
Salad greens are highly perishable, so buy small quantities regularly and maintain good stock rotation principles. Use refrigerated shelving for display. Use QR code on labels.
Correct storage for such a highly perishable product is essential. Refrigerate in plastic bags or in the crisper. Make sure the leaves aren't squashed. If the leaf mix is in a plastic clam shell pack, make sure the lid is sealed. This keeps the environment around the leaves humid and stops them drying out.
Store at 2-5°C with a relative humidity of 90-100%. The optimum storage temperature is 0°C, but because of the risk of the product freezing a slightly higher temperature is recommended. Salad greens are ethylene sensitive so store separately from ethylene producing fruits and vegetables.
Purchase salad greens with the New Zealand GAP logo.
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