Who has time to rip and tear salad? Give your knife a rest and take advantage of the bagged salads and precut produce available in the market.
They’re fresh. We caught up with a quality control guy from Ready Pac, the originator of salads-in-a-bag. Ready Pac must know what it’s doing, since the company sells more than 15 million portions of ready-to-eat saladsevery week (that’s a lot of lettuce).
Iwas informed (because I asked) that most of the ingredients for the salads are grown in California’s agricultural valleys, that no preservatives are used, that the product stays fresh in the bag because of fast processing — no veggies sit around.
The salad is kept cold from harvest to distribution in a bag made from a special film that allows the product to breath. Average shelf life (refrigerated) can be from 10 to 14 days; once opened, the produce should be eaten within two days. Keep the bag closed and refrigerated between uses.
They’re clean. Ready Pac says its products are washed three times before packaging, and safety programs are in place from the field to the production facility, as established by the Food and Drug Administration.
Rest assured that other producers of packaged salads do the same.
They’re versatile. If it were up to a lot of us, salad would consist of a shredded head of lettuce; who wants to buy five different kinds of greens, radishes, sprouts, carrots and what the heck is radicchio, anyway?
Bagged salad provides the opportunity to experiment with new salad ingredients or to enjoy the ones you already know.
We enjoyed a "spring mix" of baby lettuce and greens, including tatsoi, mizuna, red and green chard and baby romaine. (In fact, I’m sending the salad-cutting implements to the beach for the summer and going with the bagged stuff.)
Beyond the salads, you can find such convenience products as packaged cole slaw and stir-fry kits. These require only a couple of extra ingredients to make a side dish or entree.
Take those convenience items and exploit them to the max: Use some of the shredded cabbage from the cole slaw mix in soups, stews and casseroles. Add some cold chicken or salmon to a Caesar salad mix. Create an entree by microwaving the stir-fry veggies fora steamed vegetable plate.
Speaking of microwaving, try spinach in a microwaveable bag. Just poke a couple of holes in the bag (don’t forget to poke the holes or we’ll have a new disaster movie on our hands), microwave and — voilà — fresh steamed spinach.
We give you permission to put away the cutting board for the summer. You should have little trouble coming up with ideas: It’s in the bag.