I disliked salads until I discovered the half and half blends that are so common now — half baby spinach and half spring mix, which itself has a several varieties of greens in it. Before I discovered this blend, my idea of a salad was a flavorless bowl of iceberg lettuce slathered in ranch or perhaps a bowl of the slightly more flavorful bowl of romaine, also covered in ranch. Once I began eating lettuce blends, salads became much more palatable and fun. I even created my own go-to salad, a combination of the half and half mix, blue cheese, nuts, dried cranberries and a small amount of dressing.

Varying the greens in a salad makes it more appealing to me, and I recently tried some new blends from Organic Girl that had me looking forward to eating salads for lunch all last week. These blends offer some greens I was unfamiliar with. I picked a few of the greens out of the blends and researched what they were.

green-pea-shootsSweet pea shoots. Sweet pea shoots are the leaves of a pea plant. They taste a bit like peas, but they also have a little bit of a bite to them. I wouldn't call it peppery, but they aren't as mellow as a sweet pea. They're a great addition to a salad to perk it up.

baby-green-oak-leafBaby green oakleaf. Mild, a little sweet and buttery, this green leaf looks similar to an oak tree leaf (hence the name), and it has a neutral flavor that makes it great to combine with other greens in a salad blend.

red-mustard-greensRed mustard. This leafy green has more of a purple hue to it than a red, and it has a nice peppery kick. It's crisp and savory and adds spice to a mix of salad greens.


mizenMizuna. Mizuna is a bitter and earthy lettuce that can add some neutral flavor to a peppery blend.


These funky greens and more are in the Organic Girl salad mixes I tried. I enjoyed the Pepper Greens, which is a blend of arugula, baby green mustard, baby red mustard, cress, baby spinach, baby green book chop, baby green chard, baby red chard, baby ted boo chop, mizuna and komatsuna. I used it as the base for my go-to salad. It worked really well with the combination and offered a nice change. The Sweet Pea blend was also good. (Organic Girl sent me both blends to sample.)

These salad mixes are triple washed so you can eat them straight out of the container, which is made with 100 percent recycled plastic and can be recycled again. The pre-made blends make putting together a salad easy.

Of course, growing one or two of these varieties is a way to add a fresh, additional kick to your salads, whether you're using an already packaged blend and want to throw in a few more varieties or you grow all the greens yourself. Growing lettuces and other greens can be done in a container if you don't have a plot of land to garden.

Whether you grow your own varieties of lettuce or take the pre-washed blend shortcut, you can use a mix of greens as the base for any of these salads below:

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.