Height of summer translates to salad season
Nester's Needs

Forget Christmas. Forget Thanksgiving. Right now is my very favorite time of year. It's the height of summer, meaning it's the height of salad season.

Farmers markets and produce aisles are brimming with loads of fresh fixin's, from vivid green romaine lettuce to gloriously red tomatoes. My refrigerator is full of cool cucumbers, my recipe books are open to innovative ideas and my cabinets are stocked with novel salad gadgets.

Maybe there's something wrong with me, but in all my years of salad-eating (and there have been a lot of them) I have never mastered those pesky salad tongs. I can never seem to get a good grip, resulting in a shower-o-salad. But then, I found the Snapi from Misto. This single-handed server, shaped like a clam shell, grabs a helping of greens in one swoop, and nothing can escape its tight grasp. The plastic Snapi can also be used with other foods, such as vegetables and pasta. It's a simple tool, but it makes life - or at least dinner - a heck of a lot easier. Retailing for $14.95, it is sold at area home stores, including Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target and Linens 'N' Things.

I know, a lot of us buy bagged salads because they're convenient. But when it comes to making a salad from the fresh lettuce that's widely available at summer farmers markets, there are two tools you'll want to have on hand.

The first is the Good Grips Salad Spinner from OXO. Nobody likes a soggy salad, and OXO is aiming to eliminate the wet-bottom salad conundrum. After the heads of lettuce have been washed, the spinner wrings out all the excess water. The salad basket spins as you press a knob located on top, and then stops thanks to a built-in brake. A non-slip ring keeps the bowl steady on the counter.

The basket and bowl can be used separately, and the bowl can be used for serving your salad creation. After you're done, toss the spinner in the dishwasher for an easy clean-up. Retailing for $24.99, the spinner is sold at area home stores.

The second salad must-have is the Toss and Chop by Silvermark. Fans of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "The Today Show" may already be acquainted with this gadget, as it has been featured on both. Instead of spending time dicing and slicing then mixing and prepping salad, the Toss and Chop does it all at once. Put all - well, most - of your ingredients in one bowl, and get started tossing and chopping.

The Toss and Chop is great for mixing herbs, lettuce and small salad add-ins for a fresh creation. The scissor-like device comes with a safety lock, and the blades are made of heat-treated stainless steel with micro-serrated edges, so they never need to be sharpened. Note, though, that this item is not dishwasher-safe. Retailing for $21.95, it is sold at Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and other area home stores.

E-mail staff writer Anna Ferguson at anna.ferguson@gwinnettdailypost.com.