The ultimate salad?
The other day, I was eating a salad of arugula, baby lettuce, strawberries–all from my garden–topped with homemade smoked salmon, fresh mozzarella, and raw corn. Because it was full of things I had grown or made myself, the salad cost me little to make, yet tasted like a restaurant salad. And I thought to myself, I’m getting pretty good at making salads.
I eat salads all the time. Part of the reason for this is that I grow my own vegetables, so salads are a cheap source of food for me. And part of it is that salads are an ever-creative dish, where you can combine any number of vegetables, cheeses, meats, nuts, flowers, fruit, and dressings to make something nutritious, fresh, and low-calorie.
And part of it is that I’m from California, and we eat a lot of salads here. What can I say?
Here are 5 Tips To A Better Salad
Use Good Greens: The reason iceberg lettuce is the most common lettuce in the US is not because it tastes great but because it ships well. In fact, iceberg lettuce is on the short list of food I don’t like and I don’t recommend using it. Instead, use greens that have flavor. Like bread in a sandwich, lettuce is the base of the salad and should be good quality. Spinach, arugula, endive, butter lettuce, and mesculin are my favorites. Grilled romaine is also fun.
Don’t Overdress: The dressing is supposed to enhance the vegetables and balance flavors, not cover everything up. To properly dress a salad, put a small amount of dressing on the salad–try a tablespoon to start–and mix thoroughly so it’s distributed throughout. Taste, and add a bit more if needed. More often then not, it won’t be.
Salt Your Salad: A sprinkling of salt is essential to a good salad. It adds flavor without the calories of dressing. In fact, the word “salad” is from the Latin salata, which is literally “salted,” short for herba salata, or “salted vegetables.” Yet I think most people skip this step when making salads at home.
Think About Balance: Salad is best when balanced. That means a balance of texture–a little bit crunchy, a little bit soft; a balance of flavors–a little bit sweet, a litttle bit sharp, a little bit savory; and a balance of nutrition–some fruits, some greens, some proteins, some carbohydrates. Try making salads with this in mind, and you’ll see what I mean.
Include Things You Really Like: Put ingredients in the salad that you’re excited about eating. For example: a bit of bacon. A really nice cheese. Good fruit. Homemade croutons. Add something special so the salad won’t feel like you’re cramming in your vegetable and fruit quota for the day. Be imaginative.
Here are 101 salad recipes to get you started.