INGREDIENTS
by Mary Berry

There is nothing worse than a boring bowl of green leaves served at a table with a meal. I like to add some crunchy vegetables to it and I have a trick to let you make this ahead so the lettuce doesn’t wilt even though you prepared it a couple of hours ago!

Side dishes

Buyer's guide

Ready-washed salad leaves are convenient but deteriorate quickly and sometimes are rinsed with chemical mixtures to prolong their shelf life. Look instead for those that have been washed only in spring water, or buy unwashed leaves. Don't forget speciality greengrocers and farmers' markets, which will feature more unusual options such as dandelion, purslane and Treviso when they're in season.

Storage

Salad leaves with dirt still clinging to them may seem inconvenient, but leaving them unwashed and, where appropriate, attached to their stem is the best way to keep them fresh. Store them in a plastic box or unsealed bag in the salad drawer of the refrigerator.

Preparation

To prepare salad leaves, separate them from the stem if necessary and remove any discoloured patches. Gently swirl the leaves in cold water (or a mixture of water and white wine vinegar if you're concerned about bugs). Repeat as necessary. A salad spinner will help you dry them quickly and gently - your leaves should be thoroughly dry before use so that they do not dilute the dressing.

In general, it's best to tear salad leaves to the size preferred. If you're making a chopped or shredded salad, be sure to use a sharp knife to prevent the leaves from bruising. Bear in mind that the roots of some salad leaves such as corn salad, lamb's lettuce and mâché, are edible. To dress salads, pour the dressing into a salad bowl, add the leaves, then mix gently with your hands until the leaves are evenly coated.