Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lettuce rejoice in spring salads

As a child, I thought iceberg lettuce was the coolest thing on earth. It was misty green, round and neat. Most important, it came from a store.

To my thinking, anything wrapped in plastic and bought from the store must SURELY be better than those rows and rows of lettuce growing in our common, old, dirty garden. Who needed four different kinds of bibb lettuce? Or an entire row of oak leaf -- both the red and green? All I knew was it was a pain to go out every night and truly have your pick of lettuce. We ate salad every night until summer's heat chased the home-grown greens away.

And then the iceberg came to the table on a semi-weekly basis for the rest of the year.

It wasn't until I actually started paying attention to my taste buds -- and got away from home-grown salad greens -- that I realized iceberg lettuce actually has less taste than a piece of ice. Yeah, you can cleave the big green ball in two, but surely there are better things to do with our food dollar than spend it on water and cellulose and no other flavor.

Therefore, I confess that salad greens are one of the few food elements that I'm a total snob about. (Really. Stop laughing, those of you who've heard my rants on margarine, shake-and-pour pancake mix, white bread and boxed cake mixes... )

In Wednesday's Your Table, the highlight is on salads, with nary a leaf of iceberg lettuce in sight. We'll help you sort out what all that green stuff is in the produce section. We'll also pass along some quick, simple dressings worthy of those greens.

In addition, we'll have Pitcher This by Ben Cunningham, who'll describe the "perfect pour." Pat Kettles in Uncorked gives you wine suggestions to serve with your Easter meal, and Prudence Hilburn's Gourmet Touch has a braided egg and cheese concoction perfect for a brunch.