Spinning Super Salads

 Last night as I was preparing supper, I expressed my delight in my husband Mike’s newest purchase.  It is nothing big and expensive, mind you, but to me it’s a little piece of heaven.  A salad spinner; yep, I’m a simple girl!  I’ve always fancied myself as somewhat of a salad snob.  You know the type, buys all the stuff in the bag already washed and ready to go.  As if I’m so busy in my little world that I can’t take five minutes to wash my own lettuce.  Mike used to tease me about my resistance to purchasing fresh produce for our salads, but with all the chopping, washing, drying, blah blah blah, it seemed like a lot of monkey business.  Enter the salad spinner.

I started looking into these gems a couple of months ago.  They come in numerous sizes and materials, and a very wide array of prices.  Mike (being the left brain that he is) studied them all.  He knew which designs worked best, what each material’s benefits and disadvantages were, the methods for cleaning, and how much they all cost.  Upon presentation of all these facts, I looked at which ones were cheapest.  After all, I was not yet sold on the idea of having to do all this work.  Was I really ready for a $50+ commitment?

Meet my rescuer, the kitchen outlet store.  While we were down in North Branch a couple of weeks ago, Mike popped over to the outlet mall located conveniently across the interstate from the AmericInn where we were staying.  Would you believe they had a salad spinner (extra large bowl, top-rotating handle, and plastic) for $9.99?!  I was so excited about this purchase that I was ready to dash home immediately to have a salad!  We didn’t, of course, but I couldn’t wait.  I’m not sure how someone so cheap spent all those extra dollars on packaged greens.

Since we brought home our new kitchen addition, we have turned into the salad family.  We enjoyed salads before, and ate a fair amount of them in many varieties, but now it’s gone up to a new level.  Instead of buying a bag of lettuce for three or four dollars, we can get two whole heads of lettuce for just over two bucks.  And another of my favorites, fresh spinach—not frozen, has been reduced in cost by over half.  Not to mention that purchasing these things fresh means they are not filled with chemicals, they will last longer than bagged, and when Minnesota weather cooperates, we can support our local growers.  I would call that a win, win, win situation.

A few tips I’ve come across:

  • Remove the outer (soft and wilted) leaves and core, tear into 4-5 pieces, and wash/dry in the spinner
  • Place the dried lettuce in a large zip-top bag and squeeze out the air
  • Remove any rust spots or hard pieces of rib and make sure to seal tightly after each use
  • Lettuce will stay good for about a week
  • You can also clean spinach, chard, kale, etc. in the spinner.  Dry well and follow the same procedures as for lettuce.  If you trim excess stems or ribs out, it’s easier to grab and go for cooking.  I wilt greens into all kinds of things…don’t tell my family.

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