- Invest in a big lightweight bowl, much larger than what you’ll serve the salad in, and use it for tossing your greens with a dressing. You can’t coat the greens effectively if they keep falling out of the bowl.
- Recycle old cotton or linen pillowcases as storage bags for your lettuce, instead of plastic bags. The material allows the salad greens to breathe while it absorbs any excess liquid on the leaves.
- Make your own vinaigrette. Memorize the ratio of one part vinegar or lemon juice to three parts oil. Season the acid with salt and if you’d like, a smidgen of sugar, honey, or maple syrup (it tames the sharpness of the vinegar). A spoonful of Dijon mustard will help your dressing emulsify (not separate into layers). When you’re ready to add the oil, do it in a slow stream and whisk vigorously. Feel free to add minced shallots or garlic, or snip herbs into shreds with scissors.
- Don’t forget the salt. Salt is magical in the way it balances and rounds out the acid in a dressing. It can highlight the sweetness of romaine, and lessen the bite of watercress. Salads take well to those flaky wisps of sea salt or other specialty salts in your cupboard.
- Don’t drown your salad with dressing. Your mantra should be: Drizzle, toss, and taste, then repeat until the greens are lightly coated. If there’s a puddle at the bottom of the bowl, you’ve been too generous.
- Mix it up with a variety of textures and flavors, including crisp, soft, curly, smooth, and sweet and slightly bitter. Whole leaves of basil, flat leaf parsley, or mint, add a pleasing jolt of flavor.
- Tear your greens into bite-size pieces so you and your guests don’t embarrass themselves attempting to get a forkful of lettuce into their mouths. You can also thinly slice them into what the French call a chiffonade.
- Be conservative with your onions. Sweet onions are milder, but red, white, and yellow onions can have a strong bite. Try rinsing the slices to temper their raw power.
Want to know more about your salad greens? Check out Gourmet Live‘s salad issue this Wednesday for my in-depth look at whether or not dipping your produce in bleach is good for your health.