Kitchen Q&A

It’s fine to cut lettuce; chickpeas freeze well

 

The Charlotte Observer

Q. It used to be forbidden to cut lettuce with a knife. Only tearing by hand or cutting with a plastic knife was acceptable. But now I see TV chefs regularly chopping lettuce with a regular knife. What gives?

There’s no reason not to cut lettuce. (You don’t have to wipe mushrooms one by one either.) While people used to think that cutting lettuce leaves with a metal knife would make them brown more quickly, we now know that’s not true.

A Cook’s Illustrated report on plastic lettuce knives found that lettuce cut with a metal knife showed very faint browning on the edge after 12 days, while lettuce cut with a plastic knife browned slightly after 13 days, and hand-torn lettuce lasted 14 days. And who keeps salad around for two weeks?

Q. To add protein to my almost meatless diet, I add about 1/4 cup canned chickpeas to my salad. How long can I keep them in the refrigerator once I open a can? Should I store them rinsed and drained, or with the liquid from the can?

That's a great way to add more oomph to a salad, and you wouldn't want to waste the beans. First, don't store them in the opened can. Remove the leftover beans, rinse and drain them. Put them in a plastic airtight container and drizzle them with a little olive oil to keep them moist. They'll keep about five days in the refrigerator that way.

If you need to keep them longer, you can freeze them. Add a little water to keep them from drying out and getting freezer burn. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before using. That also works for beans you cooked from scratch.

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