Salad is the ultimate #SadDeskLunch if you don’t do it right. But there are tricks to making them tastier and, yes, less sad.
If you’re anything like me, you’re not eating enough salad. Now, I live above a Brooklyn pizza shop, and my home office smells like tomato sauce, mozzarella, and bread—the polar opposite of salad—all day long.
Maybe you don’t have this problem; maybe salad is your go-to, and you always bring one to work or fit one in at home every day. But I have to try to convince myself to eat more of them, because the texture of most greens leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. I typically stick to roasted veggies and asparagus and their ilk, but now that it’s nearly summer and I want to keep my oven off, I need to eat more salad.
You probably already know to dress your salad just before serving whenever possible (unless you want to soften sturdy greens such as kale by dressing them earlier). But are you aware of these three little tips? I’m certain that together they’re going to turn me into one of these women laughing alone with salad.
1. Dry your greens
Wash ‘em, and wash ‘em well; like leeks and asparagus, kale and lettuce need to be rinsed very well more often than not. But also dry them, and dry them thoroughly. Leave them out on regular towels, let them air dry, and pat them dry with paper towels or clean kitchen towels before popping them in the fridge for a very quick chill. It’ll help the dressing adhere more evenly, and you’ll avoid the uncomfortable texture of watery greens.
2. Chill your greens
Did everyone else know not to leave their greens just hanging out on the counter with the tomatoes? I did not until pretty recently. Keeping your greens cold has a way of keeping them lively, so try to include that step. Even if your lettuce is fresh from the garden—lucky you!—consider chilling it for a moment if it looks wilted; this will typically brighten the leaves up a bit.
Related: Quick and Easy Summer Salads
3. Salt your greens
OK, the obvious caveat: If you’re worried about sodium intake or someone in your family is, maybe don’t do this. But I have a salt tooth, and salting the greens directly before dressing them is a pro chef tip that was a game changer for me. There’s something about this approach that just works in the same way that salting pasta water is crucial. (And yes, you’ll still want to salt whatever dressing you’re using.) It somehow makes salad more lively, more compelling, and more savory—less like salad, but in the very best way.
Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.