February 16, 2008

Favorite Kitchen Gadgets - Part 2: SALAD

I make a lot of salad, which absolutely requires a lettuce knife. No more brown lettuce! Instead of buying those expensive bags of pre-washed/pre-cut lettuce that seem to contain more stem than leaf, and which seem to go bad quickly, you can pre-wash and pre-cut* your own. (Just remember to dry it and store it wrapped in slightly damp paper towels, and sealed in a zip-loc bag.) Lettuce knives are pretty cheap, and they all work the same (plastic or vinyl) so it doesn't really matter where you buy it or what brand it is. (I got mine at Target... about $3.)

Before you store all that lovely pre-washed/pre-cut lettuce that is ready to grab [so you can throw together a salad at the last minute to make your otherwise lonely pasta dish seem more like a meal instead of a poor excuse for dinner], you need to dry it off.

A salad spinner is the ONLY way to do this (it's also great for spinning other veggies you have washed and chopped for a stir-fry or something, so the water won't splatter when it hits the hot pan).
I have owned a few salad spinners, but this one is the ultimate! It is huge (Zyliss has two sizes, so make sure you get the larger one!) and super strong! I works unbelievably well. The mechanism is genius.

Now you need some great vinaigrette with yummy fresh garlic in it. I think I have owned every gadget invented for garlic. Some have worked better than others, and some not at all. I finally found a garlic press that is really nice (and way too expensive for something so simple, but I bought it anyway because I love garlic and use it a lot).

But this summer my mom introduced me to a new (to me) method, that is surprisingly easy. You probably already own one of these mini-graters. (This photo is about life-size!)Just take your clove of garlic (peel and all) and hold it by the root end, in the tips of your fingers. In the other hand, hold the grater, and shred that little clove. The skin stays together and protects your fingers, and the flesh comes out perfectly minced. (If you are worried about your fingers smelling like garlic, don't worry.... when you rinse out the grater you will be rubbing your fingers over the metal, which makes the smell disappear. I don't know how it works. It just does.)

And if you want to know how to get your kids to eat salad [and maybe even learn to like it] then read this.

*FOR BEGINNERS (or dummies, like me): I used to hate washing and cutting lettuce because it was such a pain... until my little sister (who went to culinary school) taught me the right way to do it! Don't wash and cut... cut and THEN wash. And DON'T chop off the end first, like I used to do. While the head is all still attached together, make several slices from the root to the tips, then slice in the opposite direction from the tip down, and it's ready to wash.

Now for washing; take the bowl of your salad spinner and take out the strainer and set it in the sink. Put one drop of mild dish soap (I like Method Cucumber!) in the bowl and fill it with water. Chop your lettuce, dump it in the soapy water, give it a few swishes, and then pull it out by handfuls (don't dump it because then all the junk that settled to the bottom will wash back onto the lettuce) and drop it into the strainer part of your salad spinner. Rinse with clean water (use your sink sprayer if you have one), and then put the spinner together and give it a whirl!


  1. Ooh, these kitchen tips are so much fun. I'm definitely going to try your lettuce washing/cutting method next time I make a salad. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Where did you get the super-dooper salad spinner? I'm in! And the "method cucumber" is a soap? Where do you get this? Thanks for the wonderful salad advice... my kids love salad!


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