Staff Recs: Best Leafy Green
February 23, 2018
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From the cafeteria in Palladium Hall to the Sweetgreen on Astor Place, we can all agree that lunchtime food lines are the bane of a New Yorker’s existence. Do we blame the picky customers or the distraught bearer of tongs? Personally, we blame a salad bar’s selection of leafy greens. The wide array of options –– arugula, kale, romaine, spinach, iceberg –– proves to be a real headrush in rush hour traffic. To settle the feud of spinach vs. kale and to make your lunchtime a little more snappy, the WSN Staff has compiled a list of the best leafy green for your next salad. Lettuce begin.
Tom Miritello, Audio Engineer
Let’s clear the air: kale tastes like dirt. Arugula tastes like peppery dirt. Iceberg lettuce is basically wasted dietary fiber — butter lettuce is nice but not really for salads, and romaine is a so-so leaf. Throw out your trash leaves and go to the underdog: baby spinach. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it’s got enough of a taste to warrant it being good on its own but doesn’t overpower other ingredients. Whether with croutons and avocado, or with beets and goat cheese or with olives and onions, spinach fits any salad perfectly while packing a nutritional punch.
Natasha Roy, Editor-at-Large
I too must stand for the one, the only, the spinach leaf. I can’t lie to y’all — I wasn’t always a fan. When I saw my dude Popeye the Sailor devour spinach, I would wonder how he didn’t throw up. But now, as a fake adult, I understand the importance of its versatility. Whether it’s in a wrap, sandwich or pasta concoction, it’s simply the best veggie option. Also, it’s quite possibly the most ideal base for a salad — the leaves aren’t too long or crunchy, making your salad experience 10 times better. Don’t waste your time on lettuce or arugula — next time you’re picking out a leafy green, you know to choose spinach.
Alejandro Villa Vásquez, Deputy Copy Chief
Shame on you for eyeing spinach like that! The first time I had arugula, it was mixed with creamy mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. The slight sweetness of the mozzarella and the hearty flavor of the tomatoes contrasted deliciously with the earthy, spicy (a herbal spiciness, not Buffalo spicy) taste of the arugula leaves. Now that people are more health-conscious and concerned with animal rights, I would try holding off on the cheese while mixing arugula with a medley of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to recreate that spicy experience, without the animal cruelty.
“Baby Kale and Arugula”
Liv Chai, Dining Editor
As an actual salad lover, I’ve learned through the years what to include purely for taste rather than for health. For greens, switch the kale and go straight for the baby kale. It has a less offensive flavor compared to regular kale and is less crunchy making it easy to incorporate. Grace your salad with arugula as well. It’s oddly spicy and has a nice kick to it despite appearing to be a sad little leaf. Most importantly, play around with different textures. Just eating a homogenous bowl of greens can be a bit underwhelming so try adding roasted nuts for the perfect amount of saltiness and crunch.
Tyler Crews, Opinion Editor
Arugula is the queen of leafy greens. She has a little bit of sass, as experienced with the bitter taste in every bite. However, when balanced out with something sweet, arugula shines and satiates with every meal. Whenever arugula is available at Lipton Dining Hall — usually twice a week — I’ll toss it up as a side salad with both lunch and dinner. I typically splash on some olive oil, squeeze one lemon and drizzle a modest amount of honey. The honey balances out the bitterness of the arugula, while the lemon compliments it well. Sometimes, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll add some pecans into the mix.
Some may say that Kale reigns over the leafy greens, however it is clear that arugula is the greatest of all greens — G.O.A.G. While I can admit to enjoying a good kale salad here and there, I’ll choose arugula over kale any day.
Cissy Yun, Copy Chief
The first time I encountered arugula was in middle school. My mom rolled this beautiful green weed into thinly sliced smoked gouda and wrapped the combo in a blanket of prosciutto. Since then, arugula, this green goddess, owns a special place in my heart. This rather oddly shaped green is mysterious — its taste can’t be explained in one word. Peppery, bitter, sesame-like, crisp, spicy, fresh and the list goes on. Originating in the Mediterranean region, arugula has now taken over the world and infused itself into different types of cuisines. I promise that a Chinese style arugula stir-fry will blow your mind. In a salad, this green is magical. It has the ability to incorporate all the other ingredients and bring a simple salad bowl to another level. Unlike other boring greens whose characteristics will be completely underwhelmed by the dressing, arugula always stands out. Not as watery as romaine, not as dirt-like as kale, not as basic as spinach, arugula is the perfect choice for your next salad adventure.
Echo Chen, Multimedia Editor
Is kale a basic choice for favorite leafy green? Yes. Do I still love it with all my heart? Kale yes. I’m so glad that kale is on the rise as a superfood because it’s delicious in all salads and grain bowls, and pairs perfectly with roasted sweet potato — one of my favorite tubers. If you’re unsure about kale, try it out with roasted sweet potato, feta cheese, diced heirloom tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and Trader Joe’s cilantro dressing. You’re sure to fall in love.
“Anything But Iceberg Lettuce”
Pamela Jew, Deputy Managing Editor
Look, I’m not the healthy, leafy greens type to even begin with, but that doesn’t mean I can’t know what flimsy leaves are worthy of chomping down on. Referring back to Tom’s previous comment, iceberg lettuce is a sad excuse for a vegetable, especially of the green variety. It’s practically just water with a drop of chlorophyll and lacks any flavor whatsoever. Why would I chew away at this annoyingly loud leaf with zero nutritional value when I can have a filling salad with any of the other aforementioned greens?
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