How to dress the perfect salad?
When I began my apprenticeship at a boutique hotel in Toronto, I started my kitchen career at the ‘garde manger’ position. That meant it was my responsibility to take care of preparing the cold appetizers, desserts, hors d’oeuvres and salads. It was hard work, but I learned a lot very quickly.
One of the most useful and valuable skills that I learned was how to dress a salad. I can’t think of a worse first impression than a poorly done salad. If a salad is over or under-dressed, it gives me a bad first impression and it makes it difficult for me to enjoy the rest of a meal. A salad, as with any other appetizer, is supposed to awaken my taste buds and wet the appetite for what hopefully is a great meal to come. However, many times the salad is not well executed…and there is really no excuse. Just follow these simple steps to salad glory!
Here are some tips to follow:
1. Wash your greens in cold running water and then toss into a salad spinner (or use paper towels to dry)
2. Rip the leaves! Do not cut with a knife; this ultimately leads to dark edges and bruising of delicate greens
3. Prep your other ingredients – be as creative as you want i.e. tomatoes, spring onions, fresh basil leaves, etc…
4. Prep your vinaigrette (pictured here is my Horseradish Dijon Vinaigrette – see previous post for recipe)
5. In a cold clean bowl, add ½ of the vinaigrette that you would normally use to dress your salad. Most people tend to add too much dressing. Remember that you can always add more as opposed to take away afterwards.
6. Add your washed greens to the bowl and toss. You can use tongs or your fingers. Be gentle!
7. Taste, adjust and season. Yes, I did say season the salad. The dressing gives flavour but sometimes a pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper will make a world of difference. Even a squeeze of lemon or lime can spark up the flavour.
8. Add your other ingredients. Taste again and enjoy!
9. Serve immediately! Do not let your dressed salad sit for longer than necessary as the vinaigrette begins to “cook” the greens almost immediately and the result is less than tasty.
Speaking about salad, it’s dinner time for my wife and I so please excuse me! Hope these tips come in handy and be sure to visit again for more tips and techniques!