Summer is salad time. It’s so easy to put a salad together, as part of the meal or even the meal itself. Remember presentation counts, keep the salad simple, and add a splash of color. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible.
Inspect your lettuce before buying, make sure the leaves look healthy, not limp. Always wash the lettuce before use. Invest in a good lettuce spinner. To keep lettuce longer wash, spin, and store wrapped in a paper towel and packed in a zip-lock plastic bag.
Lettuce: Romaine - crisp, sturdy lettuce, great for robust salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
Ice Berg or Head or Crisp head lettuce - The two terms are interchangeable. This is a crisp lettuce, perfect for a sturdy salad, or just right in a sandwich or with salsa or in a taco.
Boston or Butterhead: delicate leaves that need little or no dressing except maybe a squirt of lemon. Be gentle washing it.
Leaf lettuce: Anywhere from green to bright red. This is a good basis for a salad. I especially like the red leaf lettuce, good color. I like to use this lettuce as a base for a salad.
They can add great flavor, color, and texture to a salad.
Parsley- usually put it on last.
Basil - Use Italian.
Spinach - baby spinach is best.
A salad shouldn’t just be lettuce; add a bit of color and texture with other vegetables.
A great investment is a mezzaluna knife. Just perfect for chopping and mincing vegetables, but a simple paring knife is also good.
Cucumber- Usually two kinds are sold in most grocery stores- field and long English. Long English is best for most salads. You don't need to peel it, but you should wash it before use. Field cucumbers are wonderful in Greek salads or salads that don't have lettuce.
Tomatoes - Cherry, grape, and Roma are great for most salads. For a Greek salad, try a beefeater if you're going to make the salad ahead of time, add the tomatoes last.
Onions- I like red, especially for Greek salads. Red onions add color and spice to almost any salad. A simple trick if you don't like the sharp taste is to chop the onion, bath it in fresh lime juice, and put it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least four hours. White Spanish onions are wonderful sliced thin.
Peppers- My favorite pepper is orange. Red is probably best for Mexican, or peel the pepper first, totally optional. I like the peppers sliced thin.
Carrots - There's the baby carrots that come in spring and early summer, and the bigger kind that a wonderful all summer long. To fancy it up a bit, try peeling the entire carrot, so you get long orange strips. You can curl up the strips.
Potato salad recipe.
Nuts and Sunflower seeds nuts add protein. They're a real boon for any vegetarians in your life or if you just don't feel like meat today. I especially like nuts with spinach. Make sure the nuts are well chopped - here are ones I use: cashews, pistachio, and walnuts. Sprinkle sunflowers on top of a completed salad.
MeatIf you have leftover chicken or ham (never more than a day old and always from the refrigerator), use them in a salad. Please read Summer food safety Salmon, which is wonderful with a bit of mayo, finely chopped celery, and gherkins.
Olives and Pickles - Perk up a salad, especially a potato salad with olives green, black or purple. I love black olives, especially in a Greek salad. Dill pickles and gherkins are great in a potato or a pasta salad.
Feta is a wonderful salad cheese, especially in a Greek salad with cucumbers, red bell pepper, chopped beefsteak or Roma tomatoes, red onions, and black olives. But there's no reason why you can't sprinkle on feta over any salad just to give it a bit of zest.
Cheddar is especially good on crisp lettuce.
Parmesan is lovely with any kind of Mediterranean salad.
Mozzarella cut it up in cubes and sprinkle them over leaf lettuce. Create your own summer salad sensation.
Go ahead, experiment!