The Perfect Salad

The Perfect Salad

Although it may seem that a salad doesn’t need a recipe, this dish is a lot harder to perfect than it may seem.

There’s also no need to have a million salad recipes (obviously, Greek, Caesar, Cobb, Nicoise, among others, are classics that deserve their own entry.) There’s no need to have a million different vinaigrette recipes. It’s important to understand the ratios that result in a good vinaigrette, other than that, all the components of the vinaigrette could be changed up according to taste and to compliment the ingredients used in your salad.

Mise en place is an important culinary concept of getting all your ingredients together prior to cooking. In my home kitchen, I don’t always rely on building mise en place, but when it comes to salads – it definitely is an amazing tool.

To make your salads most affordable, nutritious and flavourful – rely on local, seasonal ingredients – as they will be the freshest and most affordable at that time. Carefully wash , dry and evenly slice your ingredients and place them in one place. Do they visually make sense; do the flavours make sense?

Consider including some cheese (feta, goat, Parmesan,) toasted nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts) and dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots) for various textures and layers of flavour.

Be sure to include a variety of different textures as well! Crunchy fennel, carrots, onions paired up with smooth and creamy avocadoes… That sort of textural contrast is always very pleasant.

By the time you are done – your salad will likely resemble a dish you would have in a fine-dining restaurant and not a soggy pre-made store-bought salad. Check out my template recipe. If you make this dish, please share your pictures and flavour combinations with me!


DifficultyBeginner

Yields4 Servings

 couple of cups of greens (spinach, lettune, kale, Mesclun greens)
 veggies of choice (see note)
 fruit of choice
 avocado, sliced or cubed
 nuts, toasted (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.)
 seeds of choice (pumpkin, sunflower)
 dried fruit of choice (apricots, cranberries, blueberries)
 onions (see note)
 protein of choice (chicken, eggs, sliced steak, tofu)
 cheese of choice (Shaved Parmesan, feta, goat cheese)
 roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes, if desired
 kosher salt and pepper to taste
 salad dressing of choice

1

Chop all of your fresh fruits and veggies. Consider assembling mise en place - where you put all your ingredients in one place to see if they work together, as well as to make the final assembly easy.

This is merely a template. You can use all or some of the suggested ingredients. Try to pick out the freshest ingredients. Go ahead buy what's on sale, buy what's in season!

2

Cover sliced onions (red, yellow, shallots) with water and allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare your salad. That will take some of the potency away from the onions. Drain them well before adding to salad.

3

Place your greens in a large bowl. Do not pour the dressing over the greens directly, that might ruin and wilt them. Pour a small amount of dressing on the bottom of a very large bowl and toss the greens gently with your clean hands until every leaf is coated with the dressing, but not swimming in it (do not overdress.) Season with salt and pepper. Transfer your greens to a large platter.

4

Combine your veggies, fruit and drained onions in now empty bowl and toss with a bit of dressing. Again, to coat them well but not overdress. Season with salt and pepper. Place the veggies and fruits into the platter on top of your greens.

5

Last arrange protein, avocado, roasted veggies, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and cheese on top of your salad. Serve immediately.

6

NOTE: for quick homemade salads I simply slice watery veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers. However, for large crowds, professional results or salads that are served at a dinner party where they may sit for some time - remove the seeds from the cucumbers and tomatoes with a spoon (to prevent the salad from getting too soggy.)

Ingredients

 couple of cups of greens (spinach, lettune, kale, Mesclun greens)
 veggies of choice (see note)
 fruit of choice
 avocado, sliced or cubed
 nuts, toasted (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.)
 seeds of choice (pumpkin, sunflower)
 dried fruit of choice (apricots, cranberries, blueberries)
 onions (see note)
 protein of choice (chicken, eggs, sliced steak, tofu)
 cheese of choice (Shaved Parmesan, feta, goat cheese)
 roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes, if desired
 kosher salt and pepper to taste
 salad dressing of choice

Directions

1

Chop all of your fresh fruits and veggies. Consider assembling mise en place - where you put all your ingredients in one place to see if they work together, as well as to make the final assembly easy.

This is merely a template. You can use all or some of the suggested ingredients. Try to pick out the freshest ingredients. Go ahead buy what's on sale, buy what's in season!

2

Cover sliced onions (red, yellow, shallots) with water and allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare your salad. That will take some of the potency away from the onions. Drain them well before adding to salad.

3

Place your greens in a large bowl. Do not pour the dressing over the greens directly, that might ruin and wilt them. Pour a small amount of dressing on the bottom of a very large bowl and toss the greens gently with your clean hands until every leaf is coated with the dressing, but not swimming in it (do not overdress.) Season with salt and pepper. Transfer your greens to a large platter.

4

Combine your veggies, fruit and drained onions in now empty bowl and toss with a bit of dressing. Again, to coat them well but not overdress. Season with salt and pepper. Place the veggies and fruits into the platter on top of your greens.

5

Last arrange protein, avocado, roasted veggies, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and cheese on top of your salad. Serve immediately.

6

NOTE: for quick homemade salads I simply slice watery veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers. However, for large crowds, professional results or salads that are served at a dinner party where they may sit for some time - remove the seeds from the cucumbers and tomatoes with a spoon (to prevent the salad from getting too soggy.)

Perfect salad

And here’s my go to vinaigrette. It works with every salad! If you have a salad with the sweet notes and fruit – consider adding some optional honey to the vinaigrette.

DifficultyBeginner

Yields8 Servings
Prep Time5 mins

 1 shallot, finely minced
 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
 1 tbsp lemon juice (or other liquid such as water, orange juice, etc.)
 2 tsp Dijon mustard
 1/2 cup plus 1 TBSP olive oil (replace part of olive oil with another vegetable oil for lighter flavour)
 salt
 freshly ground black pepper
 2 tsp honey, OPTIONAL - do this for sweeter variation

1

Whisk everything until emulsified.

Ingredients

 1 shallot, finely minced
 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
 1 tbsp lemon juice (or other liquid such as water, orange juice, etc.)
 2 tsp Dijon mustard
 1/2 cup plus 1 TBSP olive oil (replace part of olive oil with another vegetable oil for lighter flavour)
 salt
 freshly ground black pepper
 2 tsp honey, OPTIONAL - do this for sweeter variation

Directions

1

Whisk everything until emulsified.

Go To Vinaigrette

Happens to be Vegetarian: Just omit protein or add vegetarian protein.

Make it Vegan: do not use cheese, do not use honey in your dressing.
Just omit protein or add vegan protein.

Make it Dairy-Free: do not use cheese.

Happens to be Gluten-Free: as with all gluten-free recipes, ensure all your ingredients are gluten free and not cross-contaminated, including your mustard.

Make it Low Carb/Keto/Paleo: this can absolutely work within Keto or Paleo diets. Omit honey, jam and use Paleo-Keto approved veggies and mustard.

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