Salads don’t have to be bland or boring. With the right skills, fresh ingredients, and proper execution, you can enjoy a scrumptious and satisfying salad. These simple rules and tips will help you improve your salad skills.
Before getting started, there are some general rules you should follow:
Since a salad is basically a mishmash of veggies and produce, in order to create a delicious salad you must start with quality ingredients. Shop and eat seasonally and locally for an exceptional salad (and a more sustainable meal). Most products at farmer’s markets are picked within 24 hours of being sold so you are pretty much guaranteed fresh, prime produce.
Say no to bland, boring salads. Incorporating a variety of ingredients, textures, shapes, and sizes is vital to creating complex flavors and textures within your salad.
Smaller pieces mean your fork can pick up more different items for a more exciting bite. Chop your ingredients finely, especially your lettuce or greens. You can even learn how to chop different shapes and styles for more diversity in your salad.
Making The Salad
Now that you have reviewed these basic rules, it is time to make your salad.
Variety of Greens
By mixing different types of lettuce, you not only introduce new flavors and textures, but you also diversify the nutrient content of your salad. You can even go beyond leafy greens and use things like grains, other vegetables, or even legumes or beans as your base.
Season Your Greens
Before adding any dressing or toppings, season your greens with salt and pepper. This minor detail can really add to your salad overall. And really, you should be seasoning your food at every level to build a more complex flavor profile (your taste buds will thank you). In addition, you may consider adding fresh chopped herbs and citrus zest during this step.
With salad dressing, a little goes a long way, so dress lightly. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it back. Add a little at a time and taste it as you go. For a more even coating, use your freshly washed hands to mix it all up.
Make Your Own Dressing
Homemade dressing is worth the extra effort – you can control the ingredients and adjust it to your liking. In general, dressing should have a good balance of fat, acidity, and flavor. And different greens pair with different flavors. Remember, pair bold with bold and light with light.
- Arugula – The slightly bitter and peppery flavor is best balanced with sweetness, like a balsamic reduction.
- Kale – Be sure to massage kale thoroughly and then dress it lightly with an acidic or creamy dressing.
- Spring/Summer Mixes and Tender Lettuces (Boston bibb, butter lettuce) – Simple vinaigrettes and citronettes (olive oil, acidity, salt and pepper) work well with these simple greens.
- Spinach – Because spinach wilts easily, you should use a simple dressing (honey or Dijon vinaigrette, bacon dressing) at the last minute.
- Romaine – Because it is very versatile, it can work with any type of dressing.
- Watercress – This can be extremely bitter, so it is best to embrace fat, creaminess and sweetness.
- Iceberg – Creamy dressing can help build the bland flavor of iceberg lettuce.
- Grains – These are also very versatile, thus, can handle any dressing. Remember to dress grains while they are still warm for better absorption.
Texture & Toppings
Aim for at least one from each category.
- Crunch – Add texture with things like nuts, seeds, croutons (homemade), parmesan crisps, roasted chickpeas or lentils.
- Grains – Bulk up your salad and stay full longer with grains like quinoa, bulgur, couscous, barley, farro, or wheat berries.
- Protein: Protein can help round out your salad and keep you satiated. Try beans, lentils, roasted tofu, poached eggs, falafel, grilled chicken, or salmon.
- Optional items include fats (avocado, cheese), fresh fruit (pomegranate seeds, tart green apples), or roasted veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash). And remember, leftovers sometimes make the best salad toppings.
The finished product is a salad that you will enjoy as it includes your favorite foods and flavors with various textures – an absolute treat for your taste buds. It make sound like a lot of work, but if you do a little prep at the beginning of the week, such as washing and drying your produce, chopping veggies, or making a large batch of grains, assembling a satisfying salad won’t be so bad.
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