How to Build a Better Salad

How to Build a Better Salad
Photo: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

Leaves are a big, if not the main, component of a salad, but the other stuff is what makes it fun. But you know what’s not fun? Adding all of your tasty toppings, crispy bits, and proteins, only to have them fall to the bottom of the bowl when you toss the salad in an attempt to distribute them. This is not a capital-P Problem, but it is annoying, and I’m always trying to minimise life’s little annoyances.

There are two very simple ways you can avoid the dreaded topping drop. One way is to simply get a wider, shallower bowl, or large, lipped plate. Spread the lettuce out in “single” layer — think of how you build a side salad at the salad bar — then distribute the rest of your toppings on top of that leafy layer so you get a little bit of everything in every bite (or at least every other bite). Serve with tongs instead of salad serving spoons, which will minimise casual tossing. (People see a set of salad spoons and they just can’t help themselves!)

If you only have deep, narrow salad bowls, your other option is to layer, which requires a touch more planning, but is still very easy. Instead of adding all of your lettuce and all of your toppings all at once, break it into two — or even three — layers. Add a couple of handfuls of lettuce to the bowl, then half (or a third) or your toppings, then layer a couple more handfuls of lettuce and the rest of your toppings. Do not toss, as that would undo all of your hard work, causing the heavier bits and pieces to fall to the bottom. If you want to dress your salad before serving, toss the dressing with the greens only, then layer with the toppings as described above for a salad that has an equal distribution of vinaigrette (or ranch) and cheese.

    

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