Anyone who thinks salad is boring underestimates what fresh vegetables can do. It’s not just the vinaigrette that counts, but the variety in the bowl.
An absurdity if you think a good salad is packaged, already washed and plucked lettuce leaves in a plastic bag with ready-made dressing from the tube. This isn’t a salad. First of all, this is not a good salad. We reveal where the secret lies in our eight imposed salad rules.
Rule number 1: the choice of bowl
Use a large bowl to prepare your salad. Nobody benefits if, when mixing the lettuce leaves, half falls on the kitchen counter or on the floor. The bowl should be at least 25 percent larger than the final salad contents.
Rule number 2: Handling the vinaigrette
Never drown lettuce in vinaigrette. The green leaves should be shiny and crispy, not weighed down by the weight of the dressing and becoming mushy.
Rule number 3: The choice of salad
Iceberg lettuce is not a lettuce. Of course it belongs to the salad family, but in terms of taste it doesn’t come close to radicchio, endive or chicory. Feel free to combine mild salads such as lettuce or lollo with strong, bitter-tasting variants.
Rule number 4: Salt is key
Anyone who is bothered by the fact that cabbage, such as red or white cabbage, is too crispy in a salad, salt the vegetables heavily and give the cabbage time to soften.
Rule number 5: The texture and taste
Add a variety of textures to your salad: Are the lettuce leaves soft? Then add something crunchy: how about crunchy grains or roasted nuts? Quinoa, rice or lentils? When it comes to salads, there are no limits. Is your salad rather bitter? Add a sweet or fruity note: fillets of orange or grapefruit to create a contrast. Cheese like feta or grated Parmesan add creaminess.
Rule number 6: The dressing
It used to be three parts fat to one part acid. Today’s chefs prefer the lighter version: two parts fat to one part acid. Try the following variants:
Experiment with different oils (linseed oil, walnut oil, olive oil), but also with different vinegars (balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar). Find out what you like best by constantly trying. You can also use mustard instead of miso paste or gochujang. Just keep the rule: two parts fat to one part acid.
Rule number 7: The droplet of water
Every good dressing needs a drop of water so you don’t flinch the first time you taste the vinegar.
Rule number 8: The right serving
In the bowl, add the greens first and then the dressing over them. Then mix the salad with your hands (!). A pair of salad tongs would injure the delicate leaves. Only then do light and small ingredients such as nuts, grains, but also ingredients that quickly become mushy, such as avocados or tomatoes, come onto the salad. Finally, you can drizzle the rest of the vinaigrette over it. Just be careful not to overpower the dressing and bury the lettuce leaves.