This recipe has been tailored to accompany the Edible Learning Lab Teaching Kitchen collection of lessons. The simplified instructions make it an ideal recipe for young students. It is intended to accompany the lesson, Rip It.
I’m pretty lucky here in the southwest because my growing season for fresh, tasty greens is year-round. For many, though, fresh garden greens are something limited to late Spring or early Summer and you have to take advantage of them while you have them. In the Edible Learning Lab we grow most of our greens in the hydroponics towers so our students get to enjoy an amazing variety greens all the time.
There’s definitely an art to bringing together a good mixed green salad. It’s not as simple as just dumping some random stuff in a bowl. The components that make a salad work are just like any other recipe: Flavor, texture, color. A salad of nothing but chunks of kale would be treated much differently than, say, an arugula salad. Mixing the greens gives you a chance to create something balanced and beautiful that doesn’t need much else to make it great.
- Ideally you'll be harvesting these greens from your garden. Choose healthy leaves from a variety of plants. If you're buying greens at the store, look around for different options. You're looking for greens that will bring sweet, spicy, nutty or bitter notes to the salad's flavor. You're also looking for texture variety that will complement each other. Lastly, look for pops of color like different shades of green, reds or purples.
- Wash your greens well and then let them soak in an ice bath for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from ice bath and pat dry with a towel. Then run through a salad spinner to finish drying.
- Begin ripping your greens starting with your dominant flavor. Choose a neutral, crisp green as your base and make it most of your salad.
- Rip and add the other greens based on what they bring to the salad. Contrasting colors, flavor notes and textures should work to balance each other. Too much bitter or spice, and the salad won't be appealing. Rough greens like kale and collards bring texture. Sparingly use strong flavors like arugula or mustard. Add nuttiness with mache or brightness with cilantro. Spotted Trout lettuce, bibb lettuce and romaine make good base greens to build from.
- Toss the finished salad and serve with a light dressing. Too much dressing will hide or mask the flavors of the greens, so keep it simple.
- Don't forget to compost your stems and scraps!
Let your students practice bringing flavors and textures together that they enjoy. Have them taste each component before adding it to the salad. Maybe challenge them to add some things they may not like and show them how to balance it with something else. They may start discovering combinations that blow their minds!
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