Let’s be honest, hearing “salad” on the menu or in the title of a recipe can not only be boring, but also have you quickly looking for something else to eat! However, as much as the word “salad” can put us to sleep sometimes, salads themselves can be absolutely amazing when done right!
A good salad is a meal that can be enjoyed regularly, but it needs to be prepared well and this is something that isn’t too hard to master. Here are some top tips to keep in mind next time you whip together a salad.
1. Always use the freshest ingredients. This might be obvious, but when not met will surely be the thing to blame for a salad tasting bland. Go that extra mile when sourcing ingredients for your salads, crisp lettuce, vine ripened tomatoes and of course, organic where possible.
2. Wash your lettuce leaves well, leaf by leaf under cold running water. Be sure they are dry before tossing with the other ingredients by using a salad spinner and/or absorbent towels.
3. Vinegar is a salad staple, make sure you always have some on hand, or even better have a pre-made vinaigrette always fresh and ready to use (which will work with more than just salad greens). Here is a wonderful recipe to make and keep on hand:
Herb & Garlic Vinaigrette
(Makes roughly 1 cup)
10 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (ground mustard)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped marjoram
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
ground black pepper (to taste)
Place all of the ingredients into a small glass jar. Place the lid tightly on the jar and shake until the ingredients have combined. Taste the vinaigrette and season if necessary. Keep stored in the refrigerator.
4. More of a salad standard than vinegar is olive oil – never run out. Don’t go past trying other oils in your salads. Nut oils such as walnut, almond and macadamia oil all add a unique flavor that can take your salad to the next level.
5. When making your salad, ALWAYS add the lettuce last, otherwise your risk of soggy lettuce just increased!
6. If you’re unable to grow your own herbs, aim to keep some on hand as much as possible. By snipping small amounts of herbs into your salads you can make a big impact. Some of the best to use are basil, parsley, cilantro (coriander), mint, dill, chives and marjoram.
7. Small additions to a salad can make the world of difference, from textures created by thinly slicing mushrooms, red onions, celery, radish or fresh slices of fruit such as apple’s, pears and avocados.. to the ingredients that seem to bring everything together such as fresh olives, toasted nuts, grated beetroot or carrot and if you’re more primal than paleo (allowing some dairy), some shaved parmesan cheese or crumbed goats feta.
Creating your green salads can be a very personal assembly as you have the choice of course in using your favorite ingredients. Therefor, the creation of a salad doesn’t have a correct method, but it’s true to say that some salads just don’t turn out that nice.. With that in mind, here are some tips to ensure your salads are always enjoyable.
1. Large salad bowls are your friend, they ensure you have plenty of room to toss your greens thoroughly.
2. When making a green leafy salad, make sure to only use the freshest of ingredients that can be eaten raw, the following are all wonderful to use: English spinach, arugula (rocket), sorrel, watercress, dandelion leaves, radicchio, nasturtium (both the greens and blossoms of this plant are edible and can add fantastic colors to your salad), mâche (lamb’s lettuce), Belgian endive (use the small leaves in whole form within your salads).
3. When making a salad always remember the ‘optional extras’ that work wonders in combining your salad ingredients together and giving that extra boost of flavor. Olives, nuts (especially toasted), fresh vine ripened tomatoes, fresh figs, small shavings or gratings of other vegetables and slices of fresh fruit.
4. If you’re in a rush making your salad and want to add the dressing ingredients to the salad ingredients at the same time – or you see a recipe that simply states ‘combine everything in a bowl’, use the following technique:
Place a few tablespoons of the dressing ingredients into the bottom of your large salad bowl, then add a small handful of your salad ingredients at a time and coat in the dressing. Add any additional dressing ingredients (i.e. olive oil) if necessary and finish with a small amount of salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper.