Let’s get into understanding the underlying principles of a great salad. Many people, a lot of cafes and shops make boring, prosaic salads instead of colorful and exciting ones. Here are basic principles that help you get the most out of a humble-not-so-humble dish. Just like Jamie Oliver intended.
Rule no. 1: buy salad heads
First of all, if you want to save some money, try to buy your salad in heads where possible. It is true that salad heads are a little less convenient to work with. Bag salads nowadays are adorable and so time-saving, in large part due to the fact that they come pre-washed and clean. This is why so many people prefer them. On the other hand, they are less eco-friendly. That’s obvious.
Rule no. 2: get a salad spinner
Secondly, buy a salad spinner. This is an absolute must for a home cook (and a professional chef, too). Place all your leaves in a colander part, wash them till water runs clean and then put that colander drain into a bowl. Spin it and all the excess water will run from the greens due to the centrifugal force. You can then bloat your salad with a paper towel. You need clean but dry leaves – they will hold your dressing the better.
Rule no. 3: mix salads
Thirdly, mix different salads to get a more complex flavour profile. Lettuce and radicchio, sorrel and watercress, lola rossa, chicory, kale, for instance And don’t forget to dilute them with soft herbs like mint, basil, parsley, tarragon, oregano and whatnot.
Rule no. 4: add veggies
Then go in with the veggies. You don’t have to spend a lot (of money and time) to get a nice colourful salad. Use a regular peeler to shave celery, cucumbers, carrots, beets. Halve some cherry tomatoes and there you have it – rainbow in your bowl, pardon the cliche. Basically, you can stop here and add just a little olive oil and seasonings. But will you stop?
Rule no. 5: add crunch
Add a little more crunch by tossing in some nuts, seeds and croutons, even potato chips might work out. Don’t be intimidated – give it a try at least once.
Rule no. 6: add cheese
Is it not enough yet? Then get your favorite cheeses out: mozzarella and feta, blue cheese and parmesan, grated, diced or crumbled. It all works.
Fried bacon? In. Porchetta? In. Roasted chicken? Everything goes in. And don’t forget to make a basic dressing to get it all going on oiled wheels.
Rule no. 7: make the perfect dressing
For that you’ll need 3 parts of olive oil (or mix any different oils together) and 1 part acid (lemon, grapefruit, lime juices, rice, champagne, red/white vinegars and or a mixture of those) in a jar with a lid. This variant is for anybody who doesn’t want to mess with a bowl and a whisk.
And it’s super easy – just pour everything in, season with salt and pepper (1 tsp of mustard is always a good idea too), close the lid and shake vigorously until oil and acid mix and stay together as an emulsion. It’s quite weak and will separate soon. But we make it to use immediately on our salad. So let’s not waste time anymore. Have a great leafy-green time!