It's hard enough to insist that we have to eat salads, but making them can be a source of frustration for many menu-planners. How do you get the greens into even, bite-sized pieces? How do you find some variety of healthy salad choices? Mention getting perfectly boiled and peeled eggs or some slices of chicken or steak, and most people are throwing up their hands.
Whether you love a good Caesar with some perfectly tender grilled chicken, bean-and-corn based salads, or insist on an organic bed of arugula, this quick guide will get you ready for a main-course salad tonight.
Small leafy greens including spinach, arugula, and mixed greens are usually in sizes perfect for a forkful of salad. Almost all kinds of lettuce and kale, however, come with big leaves. Our favorite trick for chopping these big leaves is our handy double-bladed Mezzaluna - just rock back and forth for bite-size pieces (though it can be great for fine chopping and mincing, too).
If you want to keep chopped greens in the refrigerator for a couple of days, there are few ways to prevent it from getting brown: skip the steel and use a ceramic or plastic knife, then store in an airtight container with a damp paper towel.
While a salad generally conjures up images of romaine lettuce or perhaps spinach, not every salad needs to be mostly green. Purple cabbage makes for a bright summer coleslaw or chicken cabbage salad with an Asian-style dressing.
It may surprise you that this is such an important factor in your salad-making. Bright mandarin oranges with some soft brown cashews and dark green spinach is a popular combination because it's flavorful, colorful, and balanced between nutrients. Sweet fruits that go great on salads include all kinds of berries, mangoes, apples, grapes, and peaches.
For large strawberries, a ceramic paring knife is ideal for hulling and slicing. For apples, slice four times around the core using a chef knife, then cube the sides. Mangoes are almost as easy - peel them with a ceramic peeler, then cut around the pit's four sides and cube them as you would with an apple.
Tomatoes are also a brightly-colored favorite for salads, but remember to use a serrated knife for their oddly slice-resistant skins.
Getting all your nutrients in a great salad needn't divide carnivores from vegans. For perfectly tender steak or chicken slices, just put the thawed meat in a zip-seal bag, then pound it with a rolling pin until it is evenly thick throughout. Fry in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and cook thoroughly. Slice it up, toss it on top of your salad, and you're done!
Getting all your nutrients in a great salad needn't divide carnivores from vegans. Protein will complement the fiber in your leafy greens and balance the nutrients your body is absorbing while you eat. Non-meat options include nuts, eggs, cheese, or some tofu. Not sure how to avoid getting egg shells in with your boiled eggs? The Kitchn also has a great piece on how easy hard-cooked eggs can be to prepare.
Mixed nuts and greens always have a bit of a crunch of their own, but it may surprise you that some carbs on your salad are fairly healthy. So don't feel guilty next time you pick up some croutons - they're just helping turn your great meal choice into lasting energy!