If you’re tucking into salads galore this summer, you’re already onboard with the notion of how delicious they can be. We’ve got some fantastic tips and tricks for preparation and how make the most out of your meal.
1. Every builder needs a sturdy toolkit
As a salad architect, you’ll want the best kit too. A (really) sharp knife, a good vegetable peeler, a pestle and mortar and a steamer are key. From there, getting your hands on a spiralizer, a food processor or stick blender and a mandolin will help to make salads swifter than ever.
2. Rub your salad bowl beforehand
Rub your bowl with a clove of garlic and some olive oil and season it well before putting in your leaves to be dressed. This really makes a huge difference to the quality of the salad.
3. Cut corners where you need to
You don’t always need to skin tomatoes, butternut squash can be baked or grilled with the skin on and when it comes to mass chopping – remember a food processor can be your best friend. Whatever makes it quicker for you to make a great salad.
4. Don’t be wasteful
Thinly shave broccoli stalks as well as heads, crisp up your vegetable peels in the oven and use them as a crunchy crouton replacement, or sauté your cauliflower leaves in with your cauliflower salad. We like to call these bits ‘vegetable offal’.
5. Using garlic?
When crushing garlic, roughly chop, then sprinkle some salt on top before you start scraping the side of your knife against the garlic and the board – this will help the garlic leach water and will speed up the process.
6. Use your hands to toss your salad
Humans are a lot more delicate than salad spoons, and you’ll be able to feel any dry patches that have missed a spot of dressing.
7. Edgy Jars
Most dressings can be made by shaking up the ingredients in an old jam jar, so you can save on washing up extra whisks and bowls.
8. Stock Up Big Time
A well-stocked store cupboard is your ally in salad creation. Dried fruit, nuts, seeds and pulses can all bulk up and bring life to any sad salad.
9. Make croutons!
By using out of date stale bread in big batches, store them in air-tight containers and they’ll keep for a few weeks. You could also try other crunchy-bits to add texture, like deep fried pasta, toasted nuts or roasted chickpeas.
10. Wash your greens.
You don’t need a salad spinner, but you do need to wash your greens. When using smaller leaves, wash them carefully in a sink of cold water. Turn them over and lift out into a colander. Dry them in batches using some kitchen roll. Remember, if the leaves are wet, the dressing won’t cling to them.
Happy Salad Days!
Jane Baxter is the co-author of two LEON books, Fast Vegetarian & Happy Salads*. Jane worked at the River Café London before becoming the Head Chef at the Field Kitchen, the restaurant for Riverford Organic Vegetables. She now spends her time catering, consulting on food matters and hosting food events in unusual locations!
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*Leon Happy Salads by Jane Baxter and John Vincent is published by Conran Octopus (£15.99)