The Secret To An Awesome Green Salad
Every time I take a green salad to a potluck gathering it gets rave reviews. I’m going to reveal the secret for a salad that keeps them coming back for more and more. Most green salads are made from head lettuce, some tomato, carrots, maybe celery, and then smothered in a heavy ranch style dressing.
To me that isn’t even a salad. The first thing is that you don’t use head lettuce. It is almost flavorless, and if it does have a flavor it is bitter. It’s also low on the nutritional scale. Leaf lettuce has a lot more nutrition for the same amount, and it has flavor! So the basis for a really fantastic salad is leaf lettuce. I usually try to include several varieties of lettuce in my salads; some red and green; loose leaf and romaine; buttercrunch or butterhead, etc.
Now that you’ve got the base of your salad figured out this is when the creativity starts. First of all I rarely make a salad that only has lettuce in it. Other greens that are excellent in a salad are kale, chard, spinach, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, cabbage (both green and red), baby bok choy, mustard, or any of the early chinese greens. The key is to only use a little of the stronger leaves like arugula, kale, and mustard.
Still in the realm of green things I then choose fresh herbs to put in the salad, and if possible use in the salad dressing. All of the Italian herbs work well: basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, and rosemary. Here almost all of them grow fresh in the garden year round. I’ll also include parsley, shiso, tong ho, cilantro, or any other herbs that happen to be in abundance at the time.
Then come the extras. I don’t stop at just tomato, carrot and celery. Actually I don’t even put celery in, because I don’t like it. I’ll throw in cucumbers, zucchini, jicama, avocado, sunchokes, bell peppers, sugar or snow peas, yard long beans (cut up of course), pineapple tomatillo, or anything else that looks good at the moment. Just pick whatever vegetables you have in your garden, or that are on sale that week at the market and include them. Except those that really don’t taste good raw like potatoes. I’ve even shredded raw sweet potatoes on top.
Last come the desserts of the salad. I throw in some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whatever nuts we have on hand, as well as a handful of raisins, maybe some date pieces, or any crunchies I can lay my hands on.
To top it off you have to have a wonderful homemade salad dressing, which is a snap to make. I’ll share my most favorite dressing recipe next time.
The final piece de resistance is to decorate the salad with edible flowers. I’ll share my list of around 40 flowers you can decorate your dishes with and also eat!
Do you have a favorite salad ingredient that’s not mentioned here? It would be great to hear what tasty treats you’ve found.