Iceberg lettuce

Photo: Magdalenna Niemczyk/Cultura/Getty Images

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Mistake #1: Sticking with the Usual
Tasteless and nutrient-lacking iceberg isn't the only salad base that chefs think we're wasting our time with (unless there's blue cheese involved). Green leaf and romaine are okay, but Chef Cesar Zapata says many of us are missing out by not trying different greens. To ease into something new, combine lettuce varieties, e.g., red leaf with escarole, or peppercress (a relative of watercress) with Bibb. They all have unique textures and flavors. Other overlooked greens Zapata loves to mix with lettuce: herbs. He suggests tearing basil, parsley, cilantro or mint leaves with your hands to prevent the delicate leaves from turning black (many people chop them with dull knives, he says, which just bruises the herbs; then the edges oxidize and darken).