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The Zero Dollar Trick for Better Green Salads

The best green salads are super crisp and chilled.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

I love a good salad, so I'm always looking for tips and tricks to take them to the next level. One thing I've noticed that all truly great salads have in common is super cold and crispy greens—unless we're talking about a spinach salad with a warm vinaigrette or perhaps a deliberately tenderized kale salad.

It wasn't until recently that I learned an easy and free trick that restaurant chefs use for the crispiest, freshest salads: dunking the greens in ice water before prepping the salad.

"Dunking salad greens in ice-cold water is a technique many chefs, including myself, use to crisp and refresh the leaves," says chef, cookbook author, and TV host Chris Valdes. "The cold water helps revive wilted greens, making them more crisp and appealing for salads." Valdes adds that the icy bath also helps remove any remaining dirt on the greens.

<p>Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel</p>

Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

Valdes isn't the only chef who uses this simple technique. I first learned about the trick from Simply Recipes senior editor Myo Quinn, who spent time as a chef at the New York City's lauded Gramercy Tavern, where they dipped salad greens in ice water before service to perk them up.

And at Via Carota—another NYC restaurant that's known for its salads—the greens are washed first in lukewarm water to remove dirt and then in cold water to "invigorate them," according to the cookbook Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking from the Beloved Greenwich Village Restaurant by the restaurant's chef-owners, Rita Sodi and Jody Williams. (A recipe for the restaurant's Insalata Verde published in The New York Times takes it a step further and instructs you to wash the greens three times in progressively colder water.)

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<p>Simply Recipes / Lori Rice</p>

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

How To Crisp Up Salad Greens in Cold Water

To use this cheffy tip for cold, crisp salads at home, I recommend cleaning your leafy greens first or start with bagged pre-washed greens.

Then, use Valdes's technique to crisp the greens: Grab a large bowl and fill it halfway with ice, then cover the ice with cold water. Submerge the greens in the cold water for about 30 seconds, swish them around to remove any remaining dirt, then lift them out and place them in a salad spinner, and spin to remove the water.

This last step is important—making sure the greens are dry after their cold plunge helps the dressing to cling to them.

Valdes says the process works well for greens like romaine and iceberg, as well as other lettuces like radicchio, plus herbs like cilantro and parsley. Like Valdes, the Via Carota cookbook also suggests a brief ice bath for herbs you are using for a garnish, including parsley, mint, basil, and cilantro.

Once you have your crisp, cold greens, you can keep them cold by serving them on a chilled plate, if you want to get fancy.

Valdes also says to dress the greens just before serving to prevent wilted, soggy lettuce. Avoid adding too much dressing. "Start with a little and add more if needed," he says.

So, grab some ice and get the cold, crispy greens of your dreams. I promise that giving your greens an ice bath is a lot more pleasant than cold plunging yourself.

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.