Let the Salad Season Begin!
For any food lover, this is the best time of the year, when farmers’ markets and produce counters are burgeoning with seasonal fruits and vegetables. At the Alemany Farmers’ Market in San Francisco yesterday, stalls were bustling as shoppers filled market baskets and grocery carts, eager for a taste of summer.
From now through fall is peak salad time. Quick to fix and healthy (if you don’t overdo the dressing), salads are a boon to people too busy to cook. Toss in some protein – drained canned tuna, leftover shreds of rotisserie chicken, rinsed and drained canned beans, hard-cooked eggs – and you can make it an easy, no-cook, one-dish dinner.
Some salad tips:
- For a simple, everyday salad, dress with 1 part wine vinegar with 3 parts extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. If the salad is too tart, add another part of the olive oil or a little more salt to tame the tartness.
- Oil and vinegar don’t mix, so be sure to dry your greens thoroughly to ensure that the dressing adheres to the greens. One good way is to use a salad spinner, then pat the leaves with paper towels to blot remaining moisture.
- Too much dressing will overpower a salad, so start with less than you think you will need, taste, then add more dressing as needed.
- When you are serving company, use a large enough salad bowl to give the greens a good tossing, then transfer to a smaller serving bowl that just fits the amount of salad you are making. It’s an extra bowl to wash, but the greens will mix more thoroughly with the dressing in the larger bowl, and the presentation will be more aesthetically pleasing in the smaller bowl.
- To prepare a green salad earlier in the day for a dinner party, wash and dry the greens thoroughly and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Prep other salad vegetables – slice cucumbers, onion, etc. – and bag individually. Toss with dressing just before serving.
Since tossed salads are an easy mix-and-match of fresh ingredients, you can use whatever combination pleases you. Then try the recipes below. Two are salad dressings and the other two are add-ins to enhance your salad.
- Spago House Dressing: is from the famous restaurant by Wolfgang Puck. The recipe, shared by Andrew Hunter, uses two types of vinegar and two types of oil, and is delicious. I just made it for brunch yesterday. Makes 1 cup.
- Carrot Ginger Sesame Dressing or Dip is a recipe by Lori Powell, in the style of the dressing served at her local Japanese restaurant. You’ll need real baby carrots for this dressing; not the “baby-cut” kind. Makes about 1 ½ cups.
- Homemade Croutons is a great way to use leftover baguette and add some crunch to your salad; recipe by Zoe McLaughlin.
- Mildred Ying’s Fried Walnuts is a recipe from the former food editor of Good Housekeeping magazine. It’s the classic garnish for a beet and goat cheese salad. These walnuts should not be tossed into a salad, but sprinkled on top over each serving, so they don’t lose their crunch. You’ll devour the rest as an irresistible snack.
Photo of Spago House Dressing by Andrew Hunter.
Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.