Hello! Before I post my first salad recipe of the year, just wanted to give a few basic tips to my fellow salad eaters. Some of these may seem obvious, but I thought this would be a good place to start. I would love to hear any feedback or tips that you may want to share.
Here are a few tips for creating delicious salads:
Use the freshest ingredients possible and try to eat things that are in season. I’m sure you have heard of eating locally. This makes sense especially when eating fresh or raw foods. Ever have a tomato in the dead of winter that was picked green, refrigerated and trucked 1,000 miles across the country? I have and they aren’t worth it on so many levels. One thing you can do is avoid foods that aren’t in season. Try to use what is in season for where you live. I’ll bet that you find better quality ingredients for less money that way.
Go for a variety of flavors and textures. Fruits, seeds, nuts, various oils and flavored vinegar are great flavor boosters. Roasted vegetables are a great addition to almost any salad. Using grains or pastas in a salad opens up so many possibilities. Consider big pieces or tiny pieces of vegetables or fruits. The cut can make all the difference.
Always wash and dry your vegetables and fruits. A good way to wash greens is to fill a big bowl with water and soak the greens for at least a few minutes. Run your fingers over each leaf to make sure all of the soil is removed. Drain the water and rinse again under running water or in a bowl of fresh water. These steps can be repeated for very dirty produce. Sometimes organic spinach and lettuce will have a lot of mud. Be sure to drain as much water as possible and even pat dry your greens or spin in a salad spinner. Spinners are a great tool to have on hand for spinning lettuce, herbs, fruits, etc. One thing that will surely ruin the taste and texture of your salad is having a bunch of water at the bottom. Here is a link to a You Tube Video that shows how to wash and dry and store lettuce: How to Wash and Dry Lettuce.
Start with a “canvas” and build up. Just like a painting, a salad needs something to adhere to, a somewhat neutral ingredient on which to layer the other flavors and textures. Some good choices are: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, noodles and/or various grains. Continue building your salad with textures and flavors until you have the salad you want!
Consider composition. There are tossed salads, composed salads, mixed salads and just salads. Some say that we eat with our eyes. I agree with this. We can tolerate something that doesn’t look appetizing, but we really want to dig in when something looks good. With the right ingredients, a composed salad is a beautiful way to show off fresh produce, cooked and raw. When tossing a salad, it’s important to showcase at least a few colors. Just adding a bit of shredded carrots to a green salad can liven it up dramatically.
There are many more ways to enhance your salad making. We will explore these and add to the list over the next year. If you would like to add anything, please send your comments!