Confession time. I used to not like to eat green salads. Let me rephrase that, I used to not ever make myself salads. I liked vegetables and always made my salads with chunky vegetables but it was something about the leafy greens being hard to eat (I know that is a weird reason.) If someone else made a salad and put it in front of me I loved it. But whenever I tried to make one they didn’t taste good and so I would give up. At some point last year I decided to figure this whole salad thing out and after lots of trial and error I’ve learned some things. Maybe everyone know all these tips already but I didn’t so I figured I would share a few on how to make really good salad. After learning to make a decent salad I started eating salads three times a week and this year I made a goal to eat them every day.
I know some of these are straight forward but for me it was one of those things where I knew some of them but I wasn’t actually doing them. These little things all combined have made all the difference in making me into a green salad eating machine.
1. A Really Good Salad Bowl. I had never owned a nice big low bowl before last year and it matters guys. You need lots of room to toss the salad. (I used to try to fit my salads in a normal-sized bowl and I couldn’t figure out why it was so awkward to mix. The key is to get one that is really wide and a little bit shallow.
2. Salad Spinner. I hate having a million kitchen gadgets around so I always just made due with rinsing and shaking dry but I was reading Alice Waters’ cookbook The Art of Simple Food (which is my favorite cookbook) and she was talking about how it’s one of her indispensable kitchen tools. I picked one up a couple years ago and it definitely makes the salad taste better (mine would still have a ton of water residue.)
3. Greens. Everyone talks about buying high-quality ingredients blah blah blah organic sustainable etc but this is one area where it is mandatory to buy the best, you are eating raw plants so it needs to be great. We have a good farmers market that we stop by every week and when I’m in a pinch there is a good local grocery store that buys directly from local farms. That ensures we get the best and freshest tasting produce. I usually buy 2 kinds of greens every week.
4. Salad Dressing. I use this tip I learned on A Cup of Jo and make homemade salad dressing every Sunday in a Mason Jar and keep it in the fridge. Homemade dressing is the best. My favorite sources for recipes are Alice Water’s cookbooks (she is the queen of salads) and I’ve tried all of Gwyneth Paltrow’s and they are excellent. For salad dressing I make sure my pantry is stocked with every kind of vinegar ever and olive oil and even some vegetable oils, we also keep green onions, mustard, shallots and lemons and limes on hand since most of the recipes use some version of those and they keep really well if it takes a while to use them.
5. Cut Things Up Really Small. This one was revolutionary for me. Things are so much easier to eat if they are cut smaller. This might sound obvious to everyone else but I loved my salads so much more when they weren’t awkward to eat. My kids now eat green salads without blinking because they can eat it with a spoon.
6. Keep Pantry Items. I have large containers of pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds and also dried fruits like dried cherries, dried apricots etc. They don’t spoil and it helps me be able to get a diverse salad even if I’m running low on ingredients.
7. Other Ingredients. The best part of making salads is you can put in whatever you want. I hardly ever waste fresh produce anymore. When that stalk of celery looks like it only has another few days to live I can chop it up and revive it in my salad. I have a sweet tooth so I usually put some kind of fresh fruit in my salad. I love crunchy vegetables like carrots or watermelon radishes, they really add to the texture of the salad. I also like to blanch vegetables like green beans or broccoli. It makes them a little softer and nicer to eat. For protein I always have eggs in the fridge if there is nothing else. In addition I usually buy one other kind of protein like fish or shrimp or chicken and use it for the week. The other trick I’ve learned is to ask for suggestions. When I’m at the farmers market I ask the guys what things they have for salads. They always pull out vegetables I’ve never heard of or would never have thought about.
That is all I know about salads. I’m by no means an expert but hopefully something in here was helpful to someone. But now is the part where everyone shares all their good advice about salads in the comments. Let’s hear your expert tips on how to make a good salad! Ps: I’m sharing all my salads for the year on instagram #happysalad2014