Ask Mary, blog, Ingredient of the day, Recipes, What I made today

New this week: salad recipes

Los Angeles, Ca, -Salads are some of the simplest dishes you can make in a small kitchen with minimal tools. They are usually quick, easy, and require very few tools and ingredients. A few easy tips, such as keeping oils and vinegars close at reach, knowing what’s in them and having really fresh ingredients can help you make preparing salads even easier.

Here are a few of our favorite salad recipes: The wedge, beet and goat cheese, spanish salad and a classic caesar salad. We love them all and if you haven’t had a spanish salad it should be on your must list!

“Lettuce is like conversation: It must be fresh and crisp, and so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.”
C.D. Warner, 19th century http://www.foodreference.com/html/qlettuce.html

 

Market greens are fresh, tender, and full of flavor, making them essential for a good salad. I alwaySaladss choose organic vegetables to bring into my kitchen, bugs and all.  Why would I want to eat a vegetable that even the bugs won’t eat? With proper cleaning methods you can remove bugs, and get the freshest vegetables.

While Salads usually have simple ingredients, and take only a few minutes to prepare, they can be tricky, and if you don’t buy fresh ingredients they can be flavorless.

Salads should always look airy and tall.  I love to dress salads with an acid (vinegar, lemon juice etc.) and a little bit of olive oil. I usually will not pre-mix the dressing. I just pour the acid and oil straight onto the lettuce leaves, and top it off with salt and pepper.

 

FAQ’s buying lettuce and preparing salads:

Q:My kitchen is small and I don’t have room for many different cutting boards, do I need a special one for vegetables?

A:Multiple cutting boards designated for different types of food helps keep foods from cross contaminating but are not absolutely necessary. I would recommend having a minimum of two cutting boards however, so that you have a fallback if one is dirty and you are trying to prepare food quickly.

Q:Do I need a special jar for homemade salad dressings?

A:Special jars for salad dressing are helpful, but not necessary helpful if you prepare the dressing ahead of time to keep in your refrigerator. However, you do not usually need to make dressing ahead of time. I usually make salad dressing on the fly, and I usually pour whatever acid (vinegar, lemon, orange juice) and oil on my lettuce at the last minute as I toss the salad.

Q:Do I have to toast nuts in the oven?

A:You only need to toast nuts in the oven if they do not lay flat in the pan for even cooking. If you are in a hurry, you can toast pine nuts, almonds, and pistachios in a pan. The trick is to move them around frequently to cook them on all sides. Nuts cooked in the oven will not turn out as well as those toasted in the oven but if you do not have time to toast them in the over,  or you don’t have a good working oven, using a pan will work.

Q:Some salad components require cooking, can I do that ahead of time?

A:Absolutely. In fact, restaurants cook everything ahead of time. You should do some things ahead of time, like toasting nuts, blanching green beans, or roasting beets. However, you need to make some things at the last minute, like making Caesar Salad dressing, slicing peaches, and cutting tomatoes, because either they will not taste as good and may go bad if prepared too early.

Q: Whenever I wash lettuce my sink and countertop become filled with food, leaving me without room for anything else. Help!

A:Washing lettuce can take up a lot of space, so the best way to maximize your kitchen is do everything else first, and wash your lettuce last. You should prepare all of the other ingredients and put them away until you are ready to put the salad together, so that you can dedicate your kitchen to washing the lettuce.

Q: How do I clean lettuce? And should I clean bag lettuce?
A: Fill a large tub or bowl with cool water.  Once the tub/bowl is full, drop the lettuce in to soak for 10 minutes.  Remove the lettuce from the bowl.  Repeat three times. Filling up the bowl and then placing the lettuce in will prevent the lettuce from being bruised, and removing the lettuce will allow the dirt to stay on the bottom and the lettuce to come out clean. Spin the lettuce dry in a spinner.