Is your garden giving you kale for days? Trying to up your leafy green intake? Or have you already tried a salad from Tara and like many of us are now wondering, "How does she do it? I need more!" Whatever the reason, we thought you might enjoy Tara's breakdown on what goes into--and how to best mix up--a healthy and delicious salad. For those rule-followers who do not want to intuit their way through measurements, we've got you covered...there's a recipe to try linked at the bottom of the page.
Best sources for your greens:
Ideally, grow them yourself or get them from a farmer’s market. If you do get them from a store, stay away from bagged greens and opt for clamshell packaging. If you're using a headed green, please buy them whole and core them for storage at home. They are much cheaper and fresher.
Fruits and vegetables:
The options are endless and too long to list, but think seasonal as your guide. Remember pickled and roasted fruit and veg can be great in salads!
Be generous! They really brighten a salad.
About any cheese can be wonderful in a salad. I exchange both feta and chèvre in the recipe below and they are great alternatives.
Seeds and nuts:
My favorites are roasted pistachios, walnuts, almond and hazelnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds and black sesame seeds. Other crunchy toppings I like: hand torn croutons, fried shallots or spring onions.
Other great fat and/or protein options that I love:
Eggs, beans (roasted garbanzos are a personal favorite), avocado and grains add for a heartier salad that is easily a meal. Some of my other favorites: farro, bulgur, wild rice, quinoa, lentils.
Please, make your own! It’s easy and healthy. Alternatives to olive oil are a multitude of nut and seed oils: pistachio, walnut, hazelnut, flaxseed and sesame are some I keep in the pantry and use often. I love champagne vinegar, especially in lighter salads but an abundance of alternatives work beautifully as well: fresh lemon or lime juice, red or white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar. Remember, you can also mix different kinds of vinegar to add sweeter or more tangy notes! The key is fat/acid 2:1. If you like a creamier dressing, simply add yogurt or buttermilk. For increased tang, mustard is one of my favorite additions.
If there is one way to ruin a salad, I’d say it is in overdressing. Dressing should be LIGHTLY drizzled over salad greens. They should be lightly dressed, just shiny. Toss in the largest bowl you have and use your fingers to mix it, not tongs. They easily bruise tender greens.
Bringing it all together:
As a general rule, I add about 1/2 of the ingredients I’m adding to greens when I dress it. The other half of the ingredients, I add after the toss is done. (My one big exception to this is avocado. I never toss it in or dress it but add as garnish to a dressed salad). Heavier items will tend to sink to the bottom so leave at least half for the top for aesthetics. you can lightly drizzle some dressing on top or just know it will get nicely coated once it is served. I always finish with sprinkled salt and fresh ground pepper.