Get these 12 tips for making a killer salad. These tips range from what ingredients to use, to how to balance your salad, to the best ways get even distribution of dressing. Make your salads so killer you'll want to eat them for every meal!
There was a small hangup with the post I was originally going to do for this week on how to chiffonade, so we're just going to push that back to another day for now, and instead I'm going to give you my top 12 tips for making a killer salad. These tips range from types of ingredients to use, to making epic dressing (and when to use each kind), to how to be a salad tossing champion!
12 Tips for Making a Killer Salad
#1. Wash & Dry
Simply rinsing your greens doesn't always guarantee you'll get rid of the dirt. Try dunking them upside down into a tub of room temperature water and gently massaging the leaves to release any stuck on dirt. Once your leaves are clean, make sure to completely dry them. If the leaves aren't dry, the vinaigrette or dressing won't stick to them.
#2. Combine Textures
A lot of the reason salads get so boring for people is they get stuck in an ingredient rut. Try mixing it up by adding different textures, like something with crunch. Instead of always throwing on croutons, try adding nuts, pieces of chips, or fried noodles. Maybe try changing it up with dried fruit and vegetables (hello parsnip chips!) or a smooth and creamy cheese, like goat cheese.
Since much of salad eating is about using raw ingredients, make sure to get your inspiration for your salads from what is in season. Your citrus is going to taste better in winter, your cucumbers in spring, and your apples in autumn. Choosing seasonal produce means that your salad will have so much excellent flavor that you won't even be able to consider calling it bland.
This has become a rather big trend in salads recently, and rightly so. Adding some cooked grains to your salad will help provide some much needed carbohydrates to keep your energy up during the day, will help make your salad more filling, and will also lend some extra texture.
All the foods you like to eat are capable of being toppings for a salad; salads are only as boring as you want them to be. If you really love to eat eggplant, spiralize it and use it for salad. Are you a huge fan of pimentos? Use them in a vinaigrette. Salads are a bit like pizza in that almost anything can be turned into a salad. They are also a great way to use up leftover ingredients from last night's dinner.
#6. Heat it up
Salads don't necessarily have to be cold. Try warming up one or two ingredients before serving - like warm goat cheese, warm vinaigrette, toasted nuts, or top it with some salmon straight from the grill. Just be careful if you are using tender greens because the warm ingredients can easily wilt them - save the heat for stronger heartier ingredients like romaine or shredded brussels sprouts.
#7. Infused Oils
If you missed my post last week about how to make infused oils, you can check it out here. Infused oils are a great way to incorporate a flavor without putting the ingredient in your dressing - like chile peppers, or citrus. You can do the same thing with vinegars as well.
When making salads at home, a lot of people will forget about seasoning. Since salt and pepper don't easily stick to most salads, try putting it into your dressing or vinaigrettes instead. This also gives you the opportunity to taste test and see if you salad needs a little sweetening to offset the tang of the vinegar.
#9. Creamy Dressing Shouldn't Be Everday Dressings
Salads that handle creamy dressings, like ranch or bleu cheese, should be made of hearty ingredients and bold flavors. Creamy dressings have the tendency to overpower the ingredients in your salad instead of complimenting them. Try only using creamy dressing when you have stronger flavors like fennel, toasted nuts, or beets.
#10. Go Big
The bigger the bowl for tossing, the better. The more room you have to move around your salad means the less time you have to spend dressing the salad because it doesn't have to be tossed so many times. Instead, a large bowl provides the space you need to get the dressing onto every leaf easier.
#11. Dressing in the Bowl
If you know that you'll need an exact amount of dressing for your salad, prepare it in the bowl before adding in the salad ingredients. This saves you the hassle of cleaning an extra bowl and means that you won't be wasting any of your dressing during transfer.
#12. Be Gentle
Use your hands, not utensils to toss your salad. This will help make sure that you don't bruise your greens, that your dressing is evenly distributed, and it lets you know if you need to add more (or pour off some) vinaigrette before serving.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you would like to try making a killer salad, here are a few recipes I recommend:
- Shaved Carrot & Fennel Salad
- Fig & Prosciutto Salad
- Strawberry, Almond, & Goat Cheese Salad
- Radish, Cucumber, & Jicama Salad with Basil-Mint Vinaigrette
- Spring Pea Salad with Lemon-Ricotta Dressing
I want to hear all about your experiences and tips for making killer salads!
Tell me in the comments below, or show me on social media - @foodabovegold! If you used these tips to make an AMAZING salad show it off with the tag #CallMeMichelin
Happy Cooking! 🙂
Couldn't agree more about the crunch factor. It's essential! Also cheese.
Mackenzie Ryan says
I'm all in on the cheese, Christine. I tried being vegan for a summer once, and I could give up everything. . .except the cheese. I adore it. Also, I LOVE the name of your blog! 🙂
Thanks for your tips:) Very helpful to make my own salad!
Mackenzie Ryan says
I hope they help! Thanks for stopping by, Uma! 🙂