Texture is King
What does it mean to have a well textured salad? This means that you green leaves have to be fresh and crisp, your root vegetables firm moist with a sharp defined cut. It is very difficult to get excited about eating a salad with soft, watery tomatoes, limp greens, faded, discolored, carrot and and bruised cucumbers. No amount of dressing will improve your salad if it is made from old, soggy, vegetables that are weeks old.
Remember, the longer you keep your produce on a shelf, the faster the rate of loss of precious nutrients and vitamins. It is estimated that grocery store vegetables that are supposedly “fresh”, have already lost close to half of their nutritional value by the time they hit the shelves.
Whether you are aiming to impress your guests or to treat yourself, make sure that you use freshly bought veggies and ingredients, preferably purchased that same day.
Salad is not the same without color - make sure it has lots of it.
As a Canadian living in Toronto, I have access to cuisines of dozens of cultures from all over the world. A quick trip to my local grocery store revealed a choice of seven different kinds of lettuce four different kinds of onions, ten different kinds of mushrooms and a whole host of exotic spices, vegetables and greens I don’t normally buy. The point is, if you have the opportunity to experiment with many strange new ingredients, then why not take full advantage of it?
For example, to add a slightly zesty flavor to your salad without making it too spicy you may consider adding watercress, arugula or young spinach leaves (for sour taste). I like to experiment with sweet, bitter or peppery leafs for unique flavor combinations.
Radish - Best choice for adding color
Radishes are cheap, and they stay fresher longer and can also be cut in the variety of interesting ways. They can be diced, serrated, sectioned, finely chopped and grated. No matter how you decide to prepare them, radishes will add color and texture to any salad as well as natural flavors, zest and eye appeal. For best results, always buy radishes with leaves intact. If the leaves a fresh and green and not wilted, this means that the radishes are fresh and in their prime. You can store radishes about four days in the vegetable section of your refrigerator. For added longevity and freshness, I store my radishes in a small Tupperware fill with water. This gives them an extra three days of shelf life.
How to pick a tomato
In my experience, the best salad tomatoes are vine tomatoes because they have richer taste and excellent texture. Many different varieties of tomatoes were specifically bred to withstand very long trips across the country from the place of origin to their destination, which can be thousands of kilometers. The result of this selective breeding technique has produced tough tomatoes with tougher skins, meatier bodies that stay fresher longer.
Cherry tomatoes are a popular favorite for salads. They have a sweet crisp flavor that goes well with many combinations of salads. It is best not to cut them but instead serve them whole.
If you’re storing tomatoes for later use, it is better to store them at room temperature on the kitchen counter instead of putting them in the fridge.
How to make onions smell less in a salad
There are several varieties of onions: raw, sweet, mild, red, white and Bermuda. If you want to preserve the flavor of onions in the salad but not the smell, simply soak the diced onions and salted water for about 10 minutes. This trick also works with whole onions that you may have to keep them in a salted water for bit longer. Posted by fear is the onions of the does hold back the smell should be gone or it will be much less noticeable.
Green tops of the onions can be used together with the bulbs for some unique texture and flavor combinations.
How to choose a cucumber for a salad
For salads, English cucumbers are my personal preference. Up to you if you want to cut them peeled or unpeeled. If you’re using the unpeeled cucumbers then be sure to wash them thoroughly because they receive a protective wax covering the lock moisture and make them look shiny for. Always slice cucumbers thinly as possible, that is the mark of the professional.
What potato type to use with salads
Small round young potatoes are good choice for potato salads. They cook quickly appealed easily and make for very light and delicious potato salad that has uniform potato softness. Using big bulky potatoes is possible but that don’t always cook uniformly: layers close to the skin of the potato are watery while the core is increasingly dense and sometimes not cooked through.
You should use large mature potatoes with warm salads together with bacon or sausage, but be mindful of their calorie count which can quickly add up to a very undesirable number.
Avocados are unique in that they have to be picked before they are fully ripe. If they are left hanging on the tree, they will immediately fall to the ground once the fruit has ripened. It is therefore ok to purchase avocados and store that are green and hard and then give them a few days to ripen on the kitchen counter before using. An avocado that is ready for use should be soft enough to warp a little when squeezed, but not fully give in to the pressure. If your avocado has developed dark patches on the shell, you should throw it out. While generally harmless, these patches could have been caused by mold.
Celery is used as filler in salads to obtain some texture and a distinctive taste. It is a perfect complement to any salads and is always readily and cheaply available at most grocery stores. It is just acceptable to use celery leaves in the salad as well as the stem, or you can use them as garnish the other dishes.
To summarize, of course are no ironclad rules about what makes a salad salad. A lot of it is up to you and your imagination. It is perfectly acceptable to use cooked grains beans meat and sautéed vegetables and salad For example, in some countries so sautéed eggplant salad is considered a delicacy.
We will continue our discussion of healthy eating and we will post links to actual salad recipes as they become available. Bookmark this page and stay tuned.