Long Live Salad.

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I disliked salads until I discovered the half and half blends that are so common now — half baby spinach and half spring mix, which itself has a several varieties of greens in it. Before I discovered this blend, my idea of a salad was a flavorless bowl of iceberg lettuce slathered in ranch or perhaps a bowl of the slightly more flavorful bowl of romaine, also covered in ranch. Once I began eating lettuce blends, salads became much more palatable and fun. I even created my own go-to salad, a combination of the half and half mix, goat cheese, nuts, dried cranberries and a small amount of dressing. Oh my yum.

Varying the greens in a salad makes it more appealing to me (visual eater here), and I recently tried some new blends that had me looking forward to eating salads for lunch all last week. These blends offer some greens I was unfamiliar with. I picked a few of the greens out of the blends and researched what they were.

Sweet pea shoots. Sweet pea shoots are the leaves of a pea plant. They taste a bit like peas, but they also have a little bit of a bite to them. I wouldn’t call it peppery, but they aren’t as mellow as a sweet pea. They’re a great addition to a salad to perk it up.

Baby green oakleaf. Mild, a little sweet and buttery, this green leaf looks similar to an oak tree leaf (hence the name), and it has a neutral flavor that makes it great to combine with other greens in a salad blend.

Red mustard. This leafy green has more of a purple hue to it than a red, and it has a nice peppery kick. It’s crisp and savory and adds spice to a mix of salad greens.

Mizuna. Mizuna is a bitter and earthy lettuce that can add some neutral flavor to a peppery blend.

I also enjoyed Pepper Greens, which is a blend of arugula, baby green mustard, baby red mustard, cress, baby spinach, baby green book chop, baby green chard, baby red chard, baby ted boo chop, mizuna and komatsuna. I used it as the base for my go-to salad. It worked really well with the combination and offered a nice change. The Sweet Pea blend was also good. (Organic Girl sent me both blends to sample.)

Of course, growing one or two of these varieties is a way to add a fresh, additional kick to your salads, whether you’re using an already packaged blend and want to throw in a few more varieties or you grow all the greens yourself. Growing lettuces and other greens can be easily done in a container if you don’t have a plot of land to garden. Besides, we all know that homegrown lettuce always tastes better. :] Long live the salad.

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