How To Pair The Right Leafy Greens With What You’re Eating

best salad greens


The leafy greens section of the grocery store can be a serious clusterf*ck. No matter how hard they try to organize all of the lettuce, it tends to look like one giant green blob if you don’t know what you’re looking for. No two greens are the same. Some are peppery and some are mild. Understanding the difference between your greens can make a world of difference when you’re shopping. Here’s how to pair the right leafy greens with what you’re eating.

1. Endive

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Taste: Mild and bitter.

How to use it: Endive comes in saucer-shaped pieces that are perfect for serving light bites. You can scoop up your favorite dips with endive, grill them, cut them into strips for a salad or use them as vessels to transport your favorite cheese into your mouth.

2. Radicchio

Taste: Bitter and peppery.

How to use it: Radicchio is awesome either grilled or roasted on its own. It’ll add a crunch and bitterness to any of your savory tarts, pasta dishes, salads or pizza. You can caramelize the raddichio, saute it or eat it raw. Here’s a salad made with radicchio, pear and arugula with an olive oil, white wine and honey dressing. The bright purple color adds a vibrant element to any dish.

3. Arugula

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Taste: Bitter and peppery.

How to use it: The peppery taste of arugula is hard to miss. You’ll know when it’s in your salad. You can add dressed arugula to your pizza, tacos, toast, eggs, pasta, salad, soup or anything in between. If you’re not into bitter foods, you might not be a fan of arugula, but you can try drizzling a little bit of honey on top to cut the bitterness. Here’s some arugula inspiration that’ll give you all of the peppery feels.

4. Frisée

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Taste: Slightly peppery and nutty.

How to use it: Frisée is the type of green you’ll usually see at an upscale restaurant. It has that frilly look that can make any dish look instantly classier. Frisée is mostly a salad green. Try mixing it with fennel, melon and shrimp. If you ever feel like your salad is a little too average, add some frisée to the mix to jazz things up. While the frilly green looks prettier when it’s raw, you can saute it to mellow out the bitter flavor.

5. Mizuna

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Taste: Piquant, mildly peppery with a mild mustard flavor.

How to use it: Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green that’s found in a bunch of baby lettuce mixes. You can add the mild mustard green to your salads, stir-frys, grain bowls or soups.

6. Swiss Chard

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Taste: Earthy, sweet and beet-like.

How to use it: Swiss chard is one of the most versatile greens out there. Serve it next to a piece of fish, mix it into a bowl of chickpeas, chop it up and add to an omelet or toss it around with bucatini and garlicky breadcrumbs. You can rip up the earthy greens and put them into a quesadilla or make a Swiss chard salad with spicy garlic oil.

7. Mesclun

Taste: Peppery.

How to use it: Mesclun is a combination of small, young greens like dandelion greens, mustard greens, arugula and radicchio. The mix is sweet, tangy and tender. You can make a big salad with mesclun, stack a bunch of the greens into a sandwich or saute them with garlic and olive oil. Mesclun greens are a colorful bunch that’ll be the perfect bed for any kind of protein you’re cooking for dinner.


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