I don’t think anyone needs to be taught how to make a salad. It’s one of those things like toast or tea that no one needs a recipe for. Salad bars don’t come with instructions—a salad is just one of those dishes that we understand how to make at a visceral, intuitive level.
I think the formula for a great salad comes down to just two things: texture and flavor, specifically the proper balancing of each. Crunchy, creamy and crispy, I always say, is the formula for superior salad. Same for taste. You need sweet, salty and sour, at a minimum, to balance your bowl. (Bonus points for spicy and savory!) I call my favorite summer salad the Rainbow Salad—crispy greens meet creamy avocado, crunchy peppers, cabbage and carrots; blue cheese brings sour, salty notes to balance the sweetness of tomatoes and topped off with fresh honey French dressing. I like to add the spicy bite of radishes and peppers, but when it comes to your salad, who am I to tell you how to make it?
- 4 oz. salad greens, such as romaine lettuce, baby kale, baby spinach, baby gem or butter lettuce or a combination
- ¼ cup (more or less to taste) honey French dressing, plus more for serving
- ½ pint red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup matchstick-cut carrots
- ½ yellow bell pepper, cut into
- ½-inch dice
- 1 small avocado, sliced
- ½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup purple cabbage, sliced
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- black peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste
Chop greens; wash in ice-cold water. Drain thoroughly in a salad spinner until very dry. In a large salad or mixing bowl, toss greens with dressing to taste. Arrange dressed greens on a serving platter or shallow rimmed serving bowl. Top greens with tomatoes, carrot, bell pepper, avocado, cheese, cabbage and radishes in curved strips or wedges over the greens. Drizzle with additional dressing to taste and/or serve with additional dressing on the side. Serve with black pepper to taste.
Rachael Perron is the culinary and branding director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications. Find more recipes at kowalskis.com.