After a heavy bout of feasting, I usually crave for healthier foods. On these days, I like turning to salads for a light but delicious meal.
Most people think it is easy to put together a salad – it’s probably the easiest thing for a person who doesn’t cook to prepare. While that is true, I find that we tend to over-complicate our salads – by adding too much ingredients (that may or may not work) that we have in our pantry or fridge.
I really do not believe that a salad is the best place for random leftovers in your fridge. Fried rice or a frittata would probably be a better idea.
I often find the best salads to be uncomplicated – made of a few key ingredients that compliment each other, in terms of textures and flavours.
You don’t need a recipe to make a salad but what I like to do is to consider a few things when building my salad:
the base of the salad
Will you be using leaves to bulk up your salad. And if you are using leaves, what leaves romaine lettuce? baby spinach?
the dressing of the salad
Think about the flavour of the dressing – it can’t be too strong for delicate ingredients. Secondly, think about whether the dressing will be able to coat the ingredients well enough. For eg, a vinaigrette won’t coat romaine lettuce well.
the textures in the salad
I find that it helps to add different texture element to the salad. It helps make it more interesting. For eg. Crunch can be added by using toasted nuts/seeds or homemade croutons
the colours of the salad
We feast with our eyes first so it’s important to have varied colours in your salad.
This summer salad I made is perfect especially on a warm and humid day. I shredded some leftover roast chicken that I had, throwing together some mesclun leaves, with walnuts, sundried tomatoes and sweet cherry tomatoes. I put it together with a shallot and white wine vinaigrette. It is definitely simple.
1. Ensure your salad leaves are very dry
I find that it is best if your salad leaves are very very dry. I like to wash them, spin them dry in a salad spinner (a few times) before leaving the leaves in the crisp drawer of the fridge to dry a little more before using. If they still have moisture, I’ll dry them with kitchen towels. It’s not nice using soggy leaves so it is vital that you don’t skip this step.
2. Season every component of the salad
I find it best if you season with salt (and/or pepper) for every component of the salad before tossing them together so every ingredient is well-seasoned.
3. Dress your salad only when you are ready to eat it
A lot of people would already know this but I can’t emphasize how important it is not to dress your leaves way ahead of your dinner. They will go all limpy, soggy and you wouldn’t want that.
4. Use only as much dressing as you need
You do not have to pour all the dressing you made on the leaves. There should only be enough dressing to coat all the ingredients but it shouldn’t leave a pool of dressing at the bottom of your salad bowl.
5. Pour the dressing on the side of the bowl instead of directly on the leaves
I’ve picked up this tip from Chef Thomas Keller’s book. This would allow you to coat the leaves and salad ingredients more evenly.
Recipe: Summer salad with shallots white wine vinaigrette
I didn’t want to put down this recipe initially because there isn’t much of a recipe. Instead I’ve written about how I typically build my salad.
Here’s just a simple list of ingredients that I’ve used for this particular salad – as you can see, is not much. I’ve also included the recipe for the vinaigrette which was great for this particular one. Hopefully, this would be an inspiration for your salad making f
Mesclun salad, washed and thoroughly dried
leftover roast chicken, shredded
sundried tomatoes, sliced
cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Season the different components of the salad.
2. Place ingredients into a salad bowl. When ready to serve, toss the salad thorougly with the shallot white wine vinaigrette.
Shallot white wine vinaigrette:
1 part white wine vinegar
2 parts extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, sliced finely
1 tsp Dijon mustard
herb de Provence (or any dried herbs)
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Pour the white wine vinegar into a bowl. Add in the shallots, Dijon mustard, herb de Provence, salt and pepper and whisk well to combine.
2. Slowly whisk in the wine until the mixture is well-emulsified and smooth. Taste and season if needed.