Add Handfuls Of Herbs To Your Salad

Add Handfuls Of Herbs To Your Salad
Photo: Claire Lower

When it comes to making a salad taste good, a lot of people lean very heavily on the dressing and, to a slightly lesser extent, cheese. I love dressing and cheese, but too much of either can weigh a salad down, and rob it of its freshness. To boost the flavour while keeping your salad salad-y, add large handfuls of fresh herbs.

Salads are mostly comprised of semi-flavorful leaves. Seeing that they are the largest component, those leaves should be seasoned before you even think about mixing up a dressing. (Would you make soup with plain water? I think not!) This means salt, but it also means herbs, which happen to also be leaves, only much more flavorful. Do not be shy here. If you’re making a large salad for a family of four, you can add whole cup of tender, green herbs and it will be delightful.

When choosing herbs, think about the non-lettuce members of the bowl, and pair your herbs to those ingredients. If your salad is heavy on tomatoes, for instance, an obvious choice would be oregano or basil. If you are highlighting some grilled chicken, choose tarragon or dill. Wanting to celebrate an in-season fruit? Mint is your friend here. Chives work well in almost everything, but are particularly helpful in salads with a lot of meat, cheese, or egg, such as a club or wedge. You can also combine herbs for an even more varied tasting experience.

Prep-wise, I like to leave small leaves whole, and chiffonade any larger ones. Toss them with the lettuce to ensure even distribution; you want an herb in every bite. Then—and only then—should you add your salty bits, your cheesy crumbles, and your dressing. I think you’ll find you need less of each, though “need” is a funny word, especially when it comes to cheese.

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