Prepping Leafy Greens

Most markets now offer pre-washed greens. You can find lettuce and spinach and many of the greens used to saute or braise are available pre-washed. Some markets offer mixed saute greens that are already cut into small manageable pieces. While I understand the convenience of these products, I always wonder how long ago they were picked and how long they have been traveling on the road to my table. We all have to make decisions about how to use our time and we all have to make compromises. For me, the economy and nutritional benefits of buying whole bunches of greens - either at the market or the farmers market - outweigh convenience most of the time. No judgment here, however! Washing rids greens of soil and insects that can be trapped in their leaves. Sometimes you can be surprised at what you find at the bottom of the sink. That could have been on your plate - yikes! I don’t like finding a bug in my greens but there is nothing worse than chewing through gritty greens that have not been thoroughly washed. It is very simple to wash greens and it really doesn’t take that long. Fill a basin, or your sink,if you are certain that it is completely clean, with cool water. Pull or cut the leafy part of the green off the stem. You can also fill the base of a salad spinner and use the basket to lower the greens into the water. This method works for all leafy greens; collard greens, kale, mustard greens or chard. Swirl the greens around in the cool water, tearing them into manageable sized pieces as you go. Lift them out without disturbing the residual dirt/bugs at the base of the sink/basin and place them in a colander to drain. Alternatively, lift out your salad spinner basket and toss the water. Do this as many times as it takes for the water to be clean when you are finished. Store the greens in a plastic bag with a paper towel added to absorb moisture. You can also spin them dry. In general, lettuce and greens should be washed as close as possible to when you plan to use them but I find that I am more inclined to cook greens if they are prepped and ready in the crisper. Chard stems are delicious when sauteed slightly before adding the greens. Wash the stems, slice and saute for a few minutes before adding greens.