Culinista Kitchen®

Salad Hacks

by The Culinistas

While getting back on track for the new year takes many forms, salads reign supreme in the self care post-NYE guidebook and for good reason. A salad-forward January is solid; sticking to balanced, creative, and delicious vegetable medleys keep us feeling refreshed. We’re sharing our top salad hacks below, to keep it extra fresh.

50 Shades of Green

Don’t just think of the mesclun mix; there are many fantastic lettuces at the market to explore. This time of year, chicories are especially colorful and delicious, adding a much needed bitter element to your bowl. We’re partial to radicchio and purple endive.

Bulk Up Your Base

If you’re looking for a hearty, one-dish salad-as-dinner option, consider using a grain as your base: farro, wild rice, and bulgur being a few of our favorites. Cook your grains in broth or herb-spiked water to add extra flavor. Add them using a 1:3 ratio, grains to greens.

Herbaceous Accents

Soft herbs like parsley, mint, basil, chives, and cilantro add a brightness to any salad. If hard herbs are more your speed, think about infusing them in olive oil (just fry in a pan over medium heat & let infuse about ten minutes off heat before removing the fried herbs), use the herb oil as a base for your dressing, and scatter the fried herbs as garnish throughout. Use up those half-used bunches found floating around the crisper drawer!

Texture Is Key

Don’t forget the crunch. Nuts and seeds are perfect for a textural element.  Make sure to toast them beforehand to bring out their earthiness. Toast all your nuts when bring them home from the market. It’ll make snacking that much more satisfying, too. Crispy fried shallots, torn and toasted sourdough, and pickled vegetables are all excellent options to add a snap as well.

Dress To Impress

Salads that will benefit from marination should be dressed ASAP so the flavors can set up in the fridge over time. For leafy greens, leave the dressing separate and add as you enjoy throughout the week. A simple vinaigrette is as easy as shaking up a jar of olive oil, lemon, whole grain mustard, salt and pepper. But get creative with the components: use an herb oil or make a berry vinegar by dropping blackberries in a jar of neutral vinegar for a few days, forgetting about them, and then straining them out before using the liquid. When testing your dressing, taste it on a piece of lettuce or whatever you intend to dress.

A special thanks to Sylvie Rosokoff for the beautiful photograph.