Eat up your greens and your other salad crops.
Salad is a diverse name covering any of a wide variety of dishes including,Â green salads, vegetable salads, salads of pasta, legumes, or grains; mixed salads incorporating fruit and fruit salads. They include a mixture of cold or hot foods, often including raw or sometimes cooked vegetables and/or fruits.
Alternatively ‘Salad’ is any green plant or herb used for such a dish or eaten raw so that is the part we will concentrate on.
Leafy Salad Plants
Lettuce is available in many varieties with popular types like Cos, Butterhead, Crisphead, Lollo, Oak leaved or loose leafed. The coloured varieties above are called Bijou and Freckles. Buy a mixed packet of seeds and eat young seedlings as a way of thinning out crops.
Chicories are popular in supermarket mixes and easy to grow for summer-winter supplies, try Red Hearted or Sugar Loaf Jupiter F1. Hugh Ferrnley Whittingstall explains ‘the pale green-white, tight little missile-shaped leafy vegetable, not the blowsy, tangly, frizzy salad leaves that share its name. There is plenty of confusion here: what we call chicory, the French call endive; what they call chicorÃ©e frisÃ©e, we call curly endive. The Belgians, with pragmatic Flemish accuracy, call it witloof, or white leaf.’ so I hope that is clear there will be a test at the end. Thompson Morgan sell half a dozen varieties
Endive with broad leaves or curly leaves are good and crisp and can be used as cut and come again salads. Indivia D’Estale A Cuore Giallo can be grown from seeds .
Cabbages are used in coleslaw and most varieties are good shredded in a salad. ornamental cabbage can be eaten and the leaves add colour to a salad try Pink Beauty, White Christmas or frilled leaved Wave and Feather.
Oriental salad leaves include Chinese cabbage, Pak Choi and Mustard spinach (Komatsuna). Most of these are members of the brassica family. Mizuna hybrids Tokyo Beau and Tokyo Belle are recommended as is Mibuna Green Spray.
Leaf Beet and Swiss Chard is adaptable and young leaves can be picked for most of the year.
Spinach is fine in a salad particularly if you rip up the leaves into manageable chunks.
Strong Flavoured Leaves
Rocket is an annual, prized for its spicy leaves, that responds well to cut and come again. You can eat the white flowers leaves or sprouted seedlings that were grown indoors on an inert base. Sown in situ from early spring until autumn, you can have crops most of the year. Yellow flowered Wild Rocket and Turkish Rocket are perennials with deeply serrated, pungent leaves.
Watercress is a member of the nasturtium family native to fresh running streams. Plant rooted sprigs in soil alongside a running stream and crop lightly the first year. Can also be grown in a pot if you stand it in water and change the water every day.
Sorrel leaves are often used in French salads and have a sharp lemon flavour. Large de Belleville is a broad leaved variety to try.
White mustard or the hotter Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) have peppery leaves and the seeds make real mustard. Sow Cress 3 days earlier if you want a mix of Mustard and Cress.
Dandelion leaves have been used for culinary purposes for centuries. Use young leaves in salads or blanch older leaves with an upturned pot.
Fenugreek is a legume grown for its spicy seeds. Can be grown as cut and come again. The leaves are slightly curry flavoured and are useful for winter salads.
Chrysanthemum greens (Xanthophalmum coronarium) or Chop suey greens are used in oriental cookery but the leaves should be used sparingly in a salad. If the flavour is too strong, blanch the leaves in hot water then cool before using in your salad.
Other Leafy Greenery for a Salad
Salad Rape, Corn Salad
Curly Kale, Purslane
Leaf Amaranth and Mountain Spinnach (Orache)
Stem Lettuce or Asapragus Lettuce
If you run out of leaf options you can start on edible flowers