Yahoo Food reprint

I can think of few things that disappoint me more than being served what-could-have-been a nice salad, only to find that it is literally swimming in dressing toward the bottom. There are a few rules for making great salads, but the number one rule is: don’t overdress! If there is ANY liquid at all remaining when the salad is finished, too much was used.

So how do you know how much to put on? You go very slowly, tossing as you go to incorporate all of the dressing as thoroughly as possible into the ingredients, and then taste it; the dressing should highlight the taste of the ingredients, not mask them. I often use a pair of long chopsticks as my tossing tool of choice, but you can use your hands, salad spoons, or even tongs. Some things to keep in mind for the perfectly dressed salad:

  • Avoid bottled dressings. They’re expensive, take up room in the fridge, and often contain preservatives and emulsifiers, neither of which you need. It takes me well under a minute to pour some ingredients into a small clean jar; I shake it, and voila! I usually make enough for two or three salads, so that I don’t have to make it EVERY time.
  • Use great, fresh, fruity extra-virgin olive oil — it really does make a difference.
  • Keep some interesting vinegars around. Everyone has balsamic and wine vinegars in their pantries, but why not break away a bit and try some pomegranate vinegar, fig vinegar, brown rice vinegar, or any number of fascinating vinegars for sale out there today?
  • Add Greek yogurt (or regular if you don’t have Greek — it’s not as thick, but either will work). It makes dresssings wonderfully creamy and rich-tasting. Just spoon a teaspoon or so into your jar with your oil and vinegar, and shake!
  • Liberally salt and pepper the salad after it’s dressed, and toss it again. It makes a HUGE difference! Think about using flavored finishing salts, too (tangerine salt is especially nice).
  • Serve the salad in your best bowl. A beautiful salad is a work of art for the table when it resides in a gorgeous bowl. And give everyone individual salad plates; it’s much nicer than trying to save on a few extra dishes to wash and reusing your dinner plate.
  • Remember that texture is a big part of salads. I like to incorporate a wide range of textures, from smooth avocado to juicy apples to crunchy toasted chopped almonds.

What are your little tricks for the perfect salad?