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Spruce Up Your Salads

Commonly associated as “diet food,” salads are often shunned and overgeneralized as “boring” or “bland.” People assume that they sacrifice flavor for lower calories, but that is not always the case. There are many ways that salads can shine. Find out what salad mistakes you may be making and ways to make your salads better.

Try Something New
If your default salad base is iceberg lettuce, you should start to think outside of the box (unless, of course, you’re making a wedge salad). Now that spring is here, your local farmers’ market will likely have new seasonal leafy greens, such as dandelion greens, microgreens, baby kale, chicory, or escarole. Try something new and delight in the new flavors and textures you discover.

Dry Those Greens
Soggy salads are not ideal and are often the result of improperly dried greens. Investing in a salad spinner or the like can really perk up your salads. Or you can go the DIY route – line a plastic shopping bag with paper towels, throw your washed greens in, tie a knot, and then spin that bag in the air a few times. Your greens should mostly be dry and then you may proceed.

Season Before Dressing
If you’re only using dressing to flavor your salad, you’re missing out. After drying your greens, be sure to season them with salt and pepper. This adds another layer of flavor and may keep you from over-seasoning your dressing or overdressing your salad later.

Dress To Impress
Like pairing wine with food, you must properly pair your dressing with your greens. You want to match the bold with the bold and the light with the light. For example, mild arugula would be better paired with a simple lemon dressing rather than a bold and creamy Caesar dressing, whereas kale can handle a rich dressing and may overpower a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Aside from finding flavors that work together, you want to balance the dressing-to-salad ratio. Overdressing leads to sogginess while underdressing will make your salad feel incomplete. To prevent this, add dressing little by little and taste it as you go.

Use Your Hands
Toss those salad tongs and dig in with your (clean) hands. Using your hands to toss allows air to get into your mix and evenly incorporates your ingredients. Tip: Drizzle your dressing along the walls of your bowl and then lightly toss your greens until the dressing is evenly distributed. This helps to avoid bruised or crushed leaves, too!

Timing Is Everything
Instead of tossing it all together at the same time, timing your ingredients can help to keep your salad fresh and delicious. Adding a portion of heavy ingredients (such as nuts, seeds, tomatoes, or peas) in for the toss allows for better distribution. Adding the rest as a topping at the end allows your guests to see everything that is in the salad and get a little bit of everything.

In addition, you will want to dress your greens before adding any herbs. This assures that the herb flavor will stand out as an outer layer.

Have you made any tragic salad mistakes? Have other salad wisdom to impart? Share your stories and advice with us on Facebook, Google+, Twittter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Let us make your favorite salads and sandwiches for you! Visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli, located on the northeastern corner of Garey Ave & E Arrow Hwy, weekdays 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm.