Spin Cycle

The best salad starts with the spinner

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A great salad requires more than a good vinaigrette.

Gritty lettuce is a deal-breaker, as is wet lettuce that repels dressing. To address both problems, we turn to the salad spinner. Models are generally of either the pump or pull cord variety; pull cord models spin faster, drying lettuce more quickly, but they tend to be less durable.

Pump models are user-friendly and have no cords to tangle, but can leave lettuce damp. The best spinners have bowls that aren't perforated, so you can wash and spin greens in the same bowl, then use it to store leftover clean greens.

If you're short on space, some workarounds: Rinse your greens, roll them in a kitchen towel and spin the towel around outside (or on the fire escape). You can also use a mesh bag designed for delicate laundry items, or these reusable salad-spinner bags (3 for $8), which can be used indoors.

Some spinners are attractive enough to double as serving bowls, but we're partial to these handsome wooden bowls, which will last a lifetime. Use an oversize bowl to dress your salad, which will ensure that the vinaigrette coats everything. And ditch the tongs in favor of your clean hands, which gently toss the salad without bruising the lettuce.