Anytime is a good time for easy salads. Lettuce, fruits, vegetables and other healthy ingredients allow for a healthy and relatively quick and painless lunch, dinner or snack. Easy salads usually include just a few basic ingredients and don’t take a lot of time to prepare. Since there is not a lot of (if any) cooking involved you can also be sure that there will not be a stack of dishes waiting for you at the end of the easy salads meal either.
Before we dive into specific easy salads, here are some basic tips and tricks I have learned over the years working in restaurants and hotels that can help you become a easy salads master.
1. Serve The Right Lettuce for Easy Salads
Some lettuce has very strong flavors or textures, whereas other lettuce has almost no flavor or texture. Be sure to get the lettuce that is right for your recipe. Baby lettuce or small lettuce leaves tend to be very delicate and tender and not a lot of flavors. These are good for salads with light vinaigrette-type dressings, heavier creamier dressings like ranch, bleu cheese and thousand island tend to weigh down the lettuce and make it into a mushy mess. Heavier type lettuces like romaine and iceberg usually hold up to those heavier dressing better
2. Keep It Crisp, But Not Soggy for Easy Salads
By washing your lettuce in cold water helps to “crisp” the lettuce up and make it that nice crunchy or firm texture. But if you don’t get enough of that water off of it, it can become very watery and you end up with a pool of water in the bottom of your salad. Make sure to “crisp” it up, but dry it off enough so that your salad doesn’t swim.
3. Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS)
Easy salads are combinations of different flavorful ingredients, each bring in something different to the salad and end up making it a perfect combination. Nuts and crispy ingredients can be added to provide different textures and flavors, fruits add a sweet element and a good vinaigrette can either make a salad that’s too sweet not-so-sweet, or can provide that little something to a salad that needs a little something. If the salad tastes great and has a crunchy, chewy, salty and sweetness to it, with just 4 or 5 ingredients, leave it be. It is possible to do too much.
4. Begin With The End In Mind, How Do You Want It To Taste? Easy Salads from end, to beginning.
If you want a Caesar salad type salad, work backward and you will get the desired result. You know that if you’re using a creamy dressing, you will need a hearty lettuce. Its understanding principles like this that help you get exactly what you want every time especially with easy salads.
A little something that you may want to keep in mind, try adding salt and pepper to your salad right at the end to enhance your flavors. In the restaurants we used to do this even to a salad that had dressing on the side, we would add a touch of oil to make it shiny and some salt and pepper to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients.
5. Serve Easy Salads Immediately
Lettuce wilts, the dressing starts to pool in the bottom instead of evenly coating everything and the appearance of everything together just goes downhill the longer it sits. Another little tip to help your easy salads out, you can make all the individual ingredients ahead of time and then just combine them right as you are serving. Hint: That’s what restaurants do.
Some classic and easy salads you may want to try:
• Caesar Salad – Romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese and Ceasar dressing.
• Garden Salad – Any lettuce, any vegetables (generally tomatoes are included) and a light vinaigrette, or light creamy dressing.
• Pasta Salad – Pre-cooked chilled pasta (usually round noodles like penne or macaroni), light vinaigrette, olives (green or red), red peppers and fresh herbs.
• Fruit Salad – Mixture of canned or fresh fruit, sometimes have whipped cream or fresh herbs (especially mint) mixed in with it.
• Adding protein to anyone of these combinations has become increasingly popular in the last few years, for example: chicken breast, a filet of pan-fried fish, shredded pork or beef, sliced steak, etc.
Want some specific easy salads recipes? http://www.easysaladrecipes.com/
The nice part about easy salads is that there are very few rules to what makes a “salad.” Mixing your favorite ingredients together and making sure it tastes good to you and your guests is really all you need to become a easy salads master.