It takes very little kitchenware to mix bite-sized pieces with a sauce.
Four items are all you really need:
- mixing bowl – A really big mixing bowl (8 quart/12-13“) is best, it gives you lots of room to work, without worrying about overflow. Stainless steel is easy and all-puprose, wood, glass, ceramic and plastic are all fine, too.
- jars – For mixing salad dressing, straight, cylindrical glass jars with a tight lid let you clearly see ingredients and measure them by eye, and they’re satisfying to shake. Still, any sealable container will do.
- salad spinner or kitchen towel – Rinsed greens need proper drying, to allow dressing to stick and to avoid watering it down. A spinner or an absorbent cotton towel do the job well.
- hands – Use your bare hands whenever possible. Tear and break up veggies, let your fingers do the mixing. You get much better feedback to learn from, and it’s pure fun, like a child playing with mud. Give it a try.
There are a few additional items that you’re also likely to find useful:
- sharp kitchen knife & cutting board – for vegetables, fruit, whatever needs chopping or slicing.
- grater – one that allows different sizes of shredding is good for hard veg and other ingredients.
- whisk – handy for mixing dressing right in the salad bowl (as opposed to shaking it up in a jar).
That’s it for basic salad gear. On to the ingredients…
Say goodbye to recipes
Following set recipes isn’t important in salad making, recipes can kind of get in the way of tasty creations.
Start with a few basic guidelines, combine ingredients that sound good together, and you’ll be fine.
How about a lettuce, baby spinach, arugula, cherry tomato, and smashed walnut salad with a lemony dressing? Or a seven-greens salad with sesame seeds, hemp hearts, cucumber, sweet peppers, shaved beet, and a lemony maple dressing, topped with sliced roast chicken. It’s hard to go wrong!
Here are three common sense rules of thumb to get you started, recipe-free:
1. Taste everything. Taste the familiar: a raisin, a sunflower seed, a piece of spinach. Try the unfamiliar alone and in combination, like bitter dandelion green with some lettuce. As you get used to how raw tastes work out in the finished salad, your curiosity and creativity will naturally expand. That’s just how our minds work!
2. A great looking salad is appetizing. It improves taste by preparing you for impending deliciousness. Look for colors, shapes, and textures that catch the eye.
3. Use a BIG mixing bowl. Having a big space to work with frees you to make more choices, with no worries about fitting it all in and spilling stuff. Also, mixing it all up will be much easier. These are real advantages.
Now, on to the ingredients.