If you’re like me, you may feel like your attempts to make salad at home seem to fall flat in comparison to the salads that you get at restaurants. For years I tried to figure out why I loved restaurant salads but never really thought the salads I made at home were anything to write……home about. I’d rinse the lettuce and spin it in a salad spinner, always waiting until right before serving to put the dressing on-pretty much all the things that you always hear you’re supposed to do for a perfect, crisp salad. But my salads were never perfect. They were crisp, but there was something missing. So, I started experimenting, and finally I got it right. Now I’m going to share it with you!
The first thing that you need to do is put your salad plates or bowls in the refrigerator. I didn’t take a picture of this-I don’t want anyone to see the sorry state of my fridge! I just use the bowls that were part of my dinnerware set. I have beautiful wooden salad bowls that belonged to my grandparents, but there are a few issues with those, including the fact that they are not dishwasher safe, and, well….they’re wood. So they don’t get very cold. A cold bowl=a cold salad.
Now, get out your lettuce. I like to use hearts of romaine. They’re nice and crisp, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time tearing off wilted inner leaves like you do with whole heads of romaine. Use whatever kind of lettuce you like. Bagged is fine too-sometimes I add a bag of mixed baby greens or mesclun to my chopped romaine. Chop off the core of the lettuce then chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Put the lettuce into a colander-this is the strainer from my salad spinner (the bowl of which I broke a while back).
When I am washing fruits and vegetables, I spray them with straight, white vinegar, then with hydrogen peroxide. This will kill any germs that might be on them, but it is completely non-toxic and very “green”. Now, rinse the lettuce and give it a good ssshhhaaakkkke. If you have a salad spinner, of course, you can give it a spin instead of a shake! That won’t be quite enough, though. Once you have given it a good shake or spin, spread it onto a clean kitchen towel. Roll the towel up and squeeze (but not too tightly, or you’ll bruise the leaves). It is very important to get the leaves as dry as possible! Getting your lettuce dry and cold will make your salad perfect! Dump the leaves into a lidded bowl or a zipper bag and put it into the fridge until you are ready to use it.
When you are ready, remove your bowls and lettuce from the refrigerator, dress, and serve immediately. This is a bistro-style salad. The dressing is simple-for 2 servings (2 hearts of romaine) I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1 capful of red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. By the way, the salad is topped with a bacon and onion mixture and a poached egg. Sounds a little strange, I know, but it really works! If you’d like to see the recipe, here’s a link.
No matter what you put on your salad, though, try my tricks! I promise that if you follow these steps to make a perfectly dry, cold salad, you won’t regret it-and you just might find yourself making more salads at home!