It seems to me a salad should be one of the easiest things to make well, yet so many salads fail. What’s the deal? As most of my friends know, I’ve been threatening for some time to come out with guidelines — what has come to be known as my Salad Manifesto. I was reminded last night while eating an unsatisfactory, confused salad out at a usually good restaurant that the need is real.
There are a few reasons for salad failure, in my opinion, but it usually boils down to the problem of an excess of zany ingredients that don’t go together. Nearly a century after minimalist architecture took off with its “less is more” aesthetic, salad makers are still piling on dozens of items in an attempt to impress. I ask you, can you taste anything in a 40-ingredient salad?
Next time you make a salad, resist that urge to use every ingredient you can think of. Don’t add things that don’t taste good. Once the bowl is full, for god’s sake, stop. Do you really need more guidance than that? You do? Okay.
- Use no more than 6 or 7 ingredients
- Use ingredients that look good, taste good, and are in season
- Make greens the main ingredient, unless there is some compelling reason not to (e.g., insalata caprese)
- Pay special attention to the colors of your non-green ingredients; it has to look pretty
- Include tomatoes only if they’re good (and if you really want to use those blasted cherry tomatoes, cut ’em in half, dammit!)
- Include one crunchy ingredient (nuts, seeds, apple, croutons if you must)
- Include one sweet ingredient (dates, raisins, currants, corn, persimmons, berries)
- Use a little cheese if everyone’s okay with that, but add it after dressing
- Don’t use carrots or sprouts, and think twice before using raw onions or cucumbers
- Keep the dressing simple and light
There. I think that’s it. Simple. Less is more. Bon appetit!