Salad is a bit like Marmite: you either love it or you hate it. I’m a lover of both, and they even taste good together – when your leaves are a bit wilted, just chop them up and sprinkle over Marmite toast, along with a boiled egg, if you’re feeling hungry.
But we waste a lot of this leafy green: in the UK, we throw away 40% of all the bagged leaves we buy, collectively wasting 37,000 tonnes a year – making it our most wasted household ingredient. But we could reduce that easily: salad keeps for such a short time, so buy only enough for a day or two ahead, and buy more than once a week, if need be. Also, whole heads of lettuce keep much better than bags of leaves, take seconds to prepare and are often sold without plastic packaging. If you buy bagged leaves, transfer them to a plastic container when you get home: the bag keeps the leaves fresh in transit, but, once opened, shortens their life.
Old, limp leaves can be revived in cold water, but if they’ve wilted beyond revival, try a different tactic entirely: cut them into a chopped salad, much as you would a herb, whizz into green soups, bake in gratins or chop into stir-fries. And if you have a whole head of lettuce that’s growing tired, grill it instead …
Chop a lettuce into wedges, drizzle with oil and salt, and lay on a hot barbecue or griddle. Leave to char for a few minutes, flip and char that side, too. Then flip the wedge on its back and cook until it is charred on each surface. Serve with a squeeze of lemon or toss in a dollop of mayo and a handful of crushed toasted nuts.