When you try to replicate that salad at home, however, the results are rarely as nice. Even if it tastes fine, it’s often an afterthought of jumbled lettuce and vegetables that have gone soggy from the dressing.
But you can have restaurant-quality salads at home. Here’s the secret: The best salads are all about the details.
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From the best ways to coat each ingredient with dressing to creating those delicate carrot ribbons, here are four tips for making superior salads at home.
1. Use a Mandoline or Vegetable Peeler
Peeling and shaving vegetables does more than make them visually appealing. That pretty translucent look creates more surface area to be coated with dressing.
Crunchy root vegetables such as carrots and radishes become easier to fork up too. It also allows vegetables to be softened by acid, as in our Shaved Celery Salad with Pomegranate-Honey Vinaigrette.
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2. Add the Salad Dressing to the Bowl Before the Salad
It may sound counterintuitive, but adding the dressing to the salad bowl first keeps the salad from sogging out and helps build a better foundation for tossing later.
Need more reasons? You can even make the vinaigrette in the salad bowl for one less dish to wash.
3. Get Out the Grater
Similar to shaving, using a grater to shred your vegetables maximizes their exposed surface area. In our Brussels Sprout, Red Cabbage, and Pomegranate Slaw, for example, all parts of the shredded brassica bits get coated with the perfect amount of dressing while maintaining their lightness and bright color. The result is a salad packed with nutrients that looks stunning.
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4. Arrange Ingredients Intentionally
Be a kitchen composer and turn your next salad into edible art simply with mindful ingredient placement.
Instead of tossing everything together in a bowl, make a composed salad by arranging ingredients artfully on a platter after they’ve been dressed, as we do in our Grilled Peach and Tomato Salad with Burrata and Basil.