This section covers all these typical, relatively delicate salad greens, which can range from mild or nearly tasteless to spicy and peppery. We nearly always eat these greens fresh and raw, which is why they are one of the most commonly wasted foods. We've all had a bag of lettuce turn to stinky green slime in the fridge, right?
Purchase with a plan (if you can). Buy them knowing you plan to eat the next few meals at home, and that you're going to be making a fresh leafy salad, then using them for lettuce wraps. My trick for when I feel like I should be buying more healthy greens but know that I may not get to them: buy a Heartier Green that still works as salad leaves, like kale, or a lighter leaf that's delicious in salads but can also work cooked in omelets, pestos, frittatas and more, like baby arugula or spinach.
Store lettuce (and other easy-to-waste ingredients) where you can see them. Although the crisper drawer might help them last a day or so longer, it's no help if you forgot you put them in there and they slowly decay in the back of your fridge. My current method - inspired by this awesome article by Caroline Lange on Food52 - is to keep my greens in a $3 clear plastic bin from IKEA. I store the bin in the main section of the fridge so I can easily see inside every time I open the door. I haven't gone so far as to wash and tear them before storing like Caroline does, but just keeping them out of the crisper is helping already.
If all else fails...did you know you can revive lettuce? If you've never de-wilted lettuce before, you'll be amazed at how well you can reverse the droop factor of your salad greens. Remember high school biology and the process of osmosis? Plunging your wilted greens into a cold water bath with a few ice cubes means that the water molecules will work their way back into the lettuce cells and perk the leaves back up again. It usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes, and your lettuce will be almost new again. If you're still not loving the texture, try a cooked dish like Broccoli, Green Bean and Lettuce Stir-Fry, which is a great use for wilted lettuce.
But if your leaves turn brown, slimy, stinky or otherwise gross... sorry. Time to say goodbye and toss it in the compost!
The more flavorful salad greens are pretty versatile - arugula can be stirred into pasta or laid on top of a pizza, dandelion greens or baby spinach can go into fried rice or stir-fried greens. The milder lettuces are a bit harder - with high water content and a subtler flavor, their delicate leaves don't lend themselves as well to cooking. We'll be adding more fresh salad recipes soon as well as some cooked lettuce dishes - they do exist!