Food

9 Rules for Better Salads

9 rules for salads

I know everyone goes all cuckoo for strawberries and rhubarb this time of year, but for me, spring is all about…

…bushels of fresh, flavorful greens at the market. Nothing says “warm days are ahead” to me quite like a bite of properly dressed peppery arugula or a forkful of bright pea shoots with mint. In honor of the season, I thought it was a good time to run down a few salad rules I live by.

1. Start with High Quality Greens As far as I’m concerned, if your spring lettuces — spinach, arugula, butterhead, pea shoots — are fresh enough, you don’t need much more than a thinly minced red onion or a shaving of Parm plus a simple vinaigrette to make a delicious, satisfying salad. (Unlike when I start with the plastic-bagged “spring mixes” and feel like I’m just adding ingredients like avocados, feta, and croutons not so much to complement the lettuce as I am to disguise it.) When it comes to a surprising salad, however…

9 rules for salads

2. Think Outside the Leaf Box. Salads don’t all begin and end with kale and romaine. Try building a bowl around pretty pea shoots or crunchy cabbage; or leafless vegetables like roasted beets (above, tossed with pickled cabbage and dill) or asparagus spears that have been simmered (and “shocked” in ice water) then chopped up and tossed with a ramp pesto and minced onions. I’d take that over a Cobb any day of the week.

3. You Want Contrast. You probably know this rule instinctively. The best bites are always the ones with a little bit of a lot. You want contrast in texture (like a kale salad that showcases crispy chickpeas and creamy ranch dressing); and in flavor (like a spinach salad with salty feta and sweet strawberries); or in richness (like a gem lettuce salad with indulgent avocados next to bright, light pickled onions).

4. Crunch is the Most Important Texture. No matter how great your ingredients are, and no matter how well they complement and contrast each other, for me, it’s not a salad with out a little substantive crunch to offset all the leafy delicateness. I’m talking about the fresh crispiness of a cucumber or radish or fennel or the crunchiness of nuts or pita chips or croutons. To be clear this is a need, not a want.

5. About Those Croutons. Sure, you can go store-bought but why…
when homemade croutons have the power to make people (especially little people) sprint to the dinner table? They upgrade literally everything. I toss 4 cups of roughly torn bread (stale is optimum but not required) with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and up to 1/3 cup olive oil (you want your croutons coated not drenched), then bake at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes.

9 rules for salads

6. It Helps if It Looks Pretty. Will it taste the same if you slice your snow peas in chunks rather than these fussy slivers? Of course it will. But will it get the Pavlovian response (look gorgeous, must eat) you’re after when you serve it to your family and (soon! Please dear Lord) friends? Salads get the most likes on my instagram feed for a reason: They are so naturally vibrant and sculptural and do most of the work for you in the color department. Striped pink watermelon radishes, golden beets, orange and gold carrot shavings, deep green everything. And don’t get me started on Cézanne-still-life-like tomatoes. I’ll save that love letter for August…

7. Mix Before Your Dress. Even though most of these photos show otherwise, before you add your dressing, you want to combine all your grains, leaves and vegetables in a bowl, add salt and pepper, and toss everything together. I learned this from my most favorite salad cookbook ever, Saladish by Ilene Rosen. Rosen said this way, you ensure that your vegetables (especially delicate lettuce and herbs) aren’t overhandled and crushed by the weight of a dressing and your salad tongs. Once the dressing is added, you only have to toss briefly. Another tip from Rosen: Use your hands to ensure the most thorough, most gentle mixing.

8. Herbs Make it Sing. Here I am reminded of my friend who said she feels naked if she doesn’t apply perfume before she goes out. I am not my friend when it comes to fragrance, but I feel that nakedness when I make a salad and don’t finish with herbs. A generous showering of dill or chives or basil — or a mix of whatever you’ve got — adds dimension, plus a lingering hit of surprise.

9 rules for salads

9. Think About Your Ratio. Some people might find this scandalous, but my favorite salads don’t have a dominating base. There are greens in this salad, above, for instance, but there are also an equal amounts of beans and tomatoes and avocado. Unless I am completely embracing a super-fresh greens-only salad, I want at least a 1 to 1 ratio of base to good stuff. This is especially true for grain salads. I don’t want every bite to be 90% barley and 10% herbs. See: Rule 3, Contrast, i.e. I want a lot happening in every bite.

What would you add?

P.S. How to make your food look amazing and a salad that cures homesickness.

  1. thanks for this delicious salad recipe. My guests liked the salad in your recipe.

  2. I love adding pickled veggies to a salad (especially beets). It gives the greens a flavor boost and adds natural probiotics. Whole Foods carries great organic brands in the refrigerated section.

  3. We LOVE adding banana pepper rings to our salad. Gives it the best bite.

  4. Jo says...

    Since I have celiac, croutons aren’t the best option, I like adding roasted pumpkin seeds or caramalized nuts for crunch. And yes, slicing ingredients differently than you normally would definitely makes a salad a little more special. :)

  5. Jenny says...

    A tip I previously learned from CoJ: salt your greens!

  6. Beth says...

    The pictured salads look incredible! I would love to see recipes for the dressings and salads! Thank you!

    • Robin says...

      Yes! The red one above especially. Looks so good!

  7. Marnie says...

    A great salad
    Is roasted carrots spiced with cumin (still warm preferred) together with a sliced avocado, pea shoots (or other micro green) -and toasted pepitas/pumpkin seeds. Make a vinaigrette with a bit of citrus, evoo, and grainy mustard

  8. Elizabeth McIntosh says...

    A roommate of mine always put rice in her salads and it’s truly a great addition! The rice soaks up all the delicious flavors.

  9. Andrea says...

    Ohmygosh all of those salads looks so good! I can’t wait for tomato season!

    Sometimes instead of a mixed dressings, I’ll just drizzle a little bit of olive oil and balsamic and salt and pepper and then my favorite – a soft boiled egg on top. Just break the egg with your fork ala creme brûlée and let the yolk run all over your salad and mix. SO GOOD.

    (Easiest soft boiled egg steps – gently place egg in boiling water, time for 6 minutes, pull egg out of pot and run under cold water. Then peel.)

    • Kate says...

      This! Adds such perfect creaminess. I also love adding chunks of sweet potato that has been roasted until it’s caramelized.

  10. Sarah M says...

    I’ve fallen in love with pomegranate seeds in all salads – they add slight sweetness, juiciness, and crunch!

  11. Emma Tacke says...

    This post inspired me to make a big salad for dinner yesterday and lunch today! Thank you, Jenny!

    Here is what I put in last night’s salad:
    Base: blanched asparagus and a handful of arugula
    Protein: prosciutto
    For crunchy: croutons
    For fun: goat cheese
    then I made a dressing of: fresh lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan shavings, minced shallots, Dijon, and salt and pepper.

    And today’s lunch:
    Base: Arugula & fresh romaine
    Protein: 3 ounces of fat free feta & some chopped up smoked salmon
    For crunch: cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and pickled red onion (homemade)
    Dressings: 2 tablespoons of Bolthouse blue cheese yogurt based dressing & a splash of a Trader Joe’s vinaigrette
    Just for fun: a handful of black olives, a spoonful of Dijon mustard, and a dash of EBTB seasoning from Trader Joe’s.

    • Emma Tacke says...

      Oh, and I forgot to say I added some fresh chopped up dill to today’s salad too!

  12. Claire says...

    I love all these salad ideas and recipes- I am taking notes like crazy. Here’s a technique I use: I mix the vinaigrette ingredients first, in the bottom of the salad bowl before I put anything else in there. Or if I am using bottled dressing then a tablespoon or so of that. I use a fork or a whisk to make sure it’s blended well, then I add the onions or shallots to marinate while prepping the other stuff. Sometimes I add other things that I’d like to marinate a bit – cucumbers, or tomatoes, or white beans. When it’s time to serve the salad I add any other stuff, adding the greens and cheese last. Then toss. It saves washing an separate bowl and I think it helps build flavor.

    • Resi says...

      YES! Go Claire! I also always do this too! This also makes me adjust the amount of salad sauce I make just right depending on the size of the salad bowl I’m using.
      Thanks for all the wonderful salad inspiration. I love a good salad – and then all the rhubarb and strawberries for dessert of course ;) haha

  13. Rusty says...

    A bit off topic, but I just made the BEST pesto!
    Pandemic driven, we bought (okay, I forced us to buy) some punnets of greens that will make it into winter here in Australia, including two types of silverbeet/chard and some perpetual spinach, with the aim of stretching our fresh produce purchases to every 2nd week. It’s working out so, so well!

    My partner likes snacking on radishes and bought ones are not so nice, so he grabbed a packet of seeds. These babies come up in days and the first lot were ready to harvest in 2 1/2 weeks … big crunchy radishes and still tender green leaves.

    I googled radish leaf pesto and bingo! All the recipes were pretty much the same as for basil pesto. So, we harvested the whole lot and I whizzed up a bunch of radish leaf pesto – radish leaves, EVOO, salt pepper, pecorino, pine nuts, garlic and a handful of the almost dead old pot of basil. Y U M !
    We’ve been spreading it on sandwiches, tossing through pasta, dressing salads with it, and tonight we drizzled it over huge bowls of steamed veggies! Soooo fantastic and before this, they would’ve gone into the compost. Never again!

  14. Sarah says...

    I recently recreated my favorite fast-casual salad at home, the Signature Salad from Cosi. Arugula/dark greens, pear, dried cranberries, grapes, gorgonzola crumbles, roasted pistachios, and a sherry vinaigrette. It sounds like a lot of sweet ingredients but they all come together with the funky, creamy cheese and the acidic, sharp dressing. It’s so good! Reminds me to add unexpected crunchies to salads more often.

    And yes, herbs are a great addition! One that features herbs to great effect is the salmon and chickpea salad that was posted on here a few years back, from Not Without Salt. Ever since I made it the first time, I cook my salmon that way, even when we’re eating it on its own and not in a salad.

    I can’t wait for summer corn to hit so I can do an elote-style salad with avocado and fresh tomatoes. I love a mix of hot and cold ingredients in a salad, speaking of unexpected!

  15. Kara says...

    This is not related to salads– But I know Jenny has a daughter who will be graduating high school this year, and maybe going on to college…I was wondering if you all would consider a post about that transition in life for families (either in pre or post covid times :-)

    • Cynthia says...

      Thank you so much for sharing that link! Tabitha Brown is wonderful and I’m new fan!!

  16. Abbie says...

    I’m desperate for a recommendation for really good store bought vinaigrette. I know it’s “so easy!” To make your own but I am not going to do it. Who has a brand they love??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love Newman’s own!

    • Jess. says...

      +1 for Newman’s Own. Their Balsamic Vinaigrette (the one that separates in the bottle) is perfect.

    • Molly says...

      Another idea is to not bother making a salad dressing, but just add the ingredients of the salad dressing. I do this all the time – sprinkle salt and pepper, drizzle some olive oil, then squeeze a lemon over all of it and toss. No need to combine and shake those ingredients first, it works just as well to toss them with the salad.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, molly!

    • Claire says...

      We like Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette. I agree about Newman’s too.

  17. Easiest salad ever is tinned baby beetroots drained and quartered, feta and walnuts it’s so easy and tastes so good :) I sometimes serve it over baby spinach if I want something different.

    One of my favourite meals is spinach, feta, pumpkin and pine nut quiche (I would list quiche in my top 10 favourite foods it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can be made so many different ways.) with a simple green salad (mixed leaves, maybe some finely sliced cucumber) topped with a basic balsamic dressing (olive oil, a bit of whole grain mustard, balsamic and a squeeze of honey). For me it’s comfort food at it’s best and the combination of the quiche and green salad is perfect.

  18. K says...

    i basically hated salad all the way up to my early twenties. Treating them as necessary. in typical adult transition, of course now i craveee them with the zeal of rapunzel’s mother. I have favorite salad memories of an arugula+olives+artichoke+parmesan shavings one, my first one with wheat berries, alllll the cucumber tomato feta numbers in Greece and Belgrade, Serbia……actually looking forward to the iceberg ginger dressing ones at Japanese chain restaurants…

  19. I discovered carrot salad while I was living in France.  Game changer.  Carrot salad is endlessly customizable (add feta, top with chives, add pumpkin seeds) and it’s pretty on the plate.   Everyone loves it (even kids) and carrot salad goes with everything (it’s my go-to side dish for bbq).  It’s basically raw, shredded carrots tossed in vinaigrette, which is wonderful for right now, because carrots keep for a while.  So eat your leafy greens in the beginning of the week, but then as the fridge becomes bare, find your food processor’s shredding disk and make something golden. 

    • Claire says...

      Carrot salad sounds really good, Emma- thanks for sharing this.

    • Robin says...

      My three year old had a temper tantrum yesterday because I hadn’t made carrot salad for dinner TODAY. Shredded carrots/orange juice/Juice of half a lemon/raisins. A tiny bit of olive oil/salt and pepper. Magic!

  20. Whitney says...

    I love dressing salads with a simple olive oil/champagne vinegar mixture but sometimes I just want something creamy. Easy creamy dressing is 1/2 cup mayo, 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar and a pinch of sugar (salt & pepper). It’s slightly tangy and sweet. Bonus: I can coat ANYTHING in this dressing and my kids will eat it.

  21. Virginia says...

    It’s strangely bracing to think about salads right now. That sounds silly and affected at first, but when I actually think about it, it’s not either of those things, not at all. Take it from someone who just had cereal for dinner :)

  22. Claire says...

    Now we need recipes for all the salads pictured! Every one looks so good!

    • Agreed!

  23. Alec says...

    BIG BOWL. I read somewhere (probably The Kitchn) that the key to making a salad good is putting it in a ridiculously large bowl. That ensures you can properly mix and distribute everything instead of having a packed pile of vegetables with heavy dressing on top and nothing underneath. I started doing this and it makes a world of difference, even though I am roundly mocked at work for using the largest bowl available for my single serving of salad.

    • Emma Tacke says...

      Haha, this is so true! I always use the big metal mixing bowl in my office’s kitchen for my salads and it looks ridiculous but everything else is to0 small!

  24. Rosemarie says...

    This was wonderful and I can’t wait to build a salad using your tips! Also, an aside, I want to thank you for using the word upgrade instead of, say, elevate. I am SO SICK of hearing that word. Terribly trite. Thank you.

  25. Mims says...

    I have been exploring new (to me) ingredients for salads and adore fresh chayote. They must be really fresh and cold! slice thinly into batons and add to daikon radish and a yuzu dressing…so delish. I also have been making japanese pickled veggies and adding to salads: oshinko (daikon), yamagobo (burdock), miso nasu (eggplant). Shredded green papaya, blanched nopales (cactus) or jicama works well too as a salad add in. It helps to live near a multicultural bodega or market to find things outside of the lettuce, tomato, carrot, etc. paradigm. I also want to plug the salad cookbooks of Denise Hope Romero…so imaginative!

    • Claire says...

      wow really interesting ideas here! thanks for sharing these.

  26. Ramya says...

    My favorite salad as of late has been on my quarantine dinner rotation for those nights when my son wants to eat junk but I don’t. It’s a simple chopped Mexican-ish salad. I toss baby spinach (would prefer romaine or another green but spinach is usually what I have) with canned black beans or chickpeas, roasted corn, diced red bell pepper, diced onion (preferably red), diced jalapeno (fresh or pickled), something crunchy/crispy (tortilla strips, crumbled tortilla chips, corn nuts, etc.) and whatever else I have that strikes my fancy (e.g. sliced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, sliced black olives, etc.). My “dressing” of choice is usually just a dash of Trader Joe’s green dragon sauce (it’s bomb!). So so good!

    • Cheryl Patzer says...

      We make that salad all the time with plain yogurt+ green dragon or Plain yogurt+ TJ’s Hatch Chile salsa dressing.

    • I make a similar salad but the “dressing” is a mix of salsa and light sour cream, I normally just include a few spoonful’s of each before I toss the salad and I also include shredded chicken. I just love the flavours Mexican and this fixes the cravings without the calories :)

  27. Lauren says...

    I have recently been making lunch salads with tahini dressing, which is a nice change from vinaigrette. I use some combination of greens, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, leftover roasted veggies, avocado, feta, kalamata olives, sometimes cooked chicken or crumbled pita chips. I leave out whatever I don’t have or don’t feel like.

    For the dressing I whisk about 1/4 cup tahihi, 1/4 cup water, a big squeeze of lemon juice, a little minced garlic, a squeeze of honey so it’s not too bitter, and salt/pepper to taste. This makes enough dressing for several salads for me.

    • Carol says...

      This sounds so good to me right now! Thanks, Lauren!

  28. Meghan says...

    If I have washed/ready to go greens in my fridge and any other odds and ends (leftover roasted veggies, quick pickled onions, moving towards wilted veggies, leftover grains) I am WAY more likely to make a salad. I guess this is what people call meal prepping! ha! It feels less intentional than that for me. If you master a basic dressing and ratio of oil/acid/fat/sweet you’ll never go back to storebought and feel comfortable mixing and matching with what you have around!

  29. Anabelle says...

    I like to do a quick pickle of red onion, carrots, radishes, cauliflower or broccoli before adding to a salad by marinating in vinegar and a pinch of salt (and sometimes a little sugar) for 15-20 minutes and then draining.

    Also, I recently started double-dressing my greens – toss clean and dry greens with a small amount of good vinaigrette (three parts olive oil, one part lemon juice or vinegar, a minced shallot, some dijon mustard, salt and pepper). Then you can plate the salad and drizzle your “main” dressing over it. That way, you never get an unseasoned bite, and you do get an extra layer of flavor.

  30. Caitlin says...

    I love this and these salads look so great – now I really want to make the ones in the pictures! Are there links to those recipes?

    Thanks!!

    • J says...

      yes! i second this! recipes please?

  31. Rebecca says...

    I tend to work in terms of textures and flavours first- so something crunchy, something soft, something salty, something sweet, something bitter, something bright… And then some big handfuls of leaves of varied textures and a generous handful of chopped fresh herbs. We always have coriander (fresh tasting to me), parsley (green) and mint (bright) in the fridge so usually a grabbed fist of the three.

    My favourite breakfast is a salad of watercress, rocket and baby spinach with smoked mackerel, cucumber, blueberries and melon, dressed with some Greek yogurt and some sriracha. It sounds insane but because of all the varied textures and flavours it just makes me feel incredibly cheerful and full, and makes my brain fizz with all the different sensations.

  32. Inna Cross says...

    I have literally been eating a salad for lunch Mon-Fri for roughly 4 years (even in quarantine!) and I totally agree that contrast and texture is extremely important! Here’s my go to: spinach or a spring mix; protein (usually from the prior night’s dinner); tomatoes; cucumber; avocado; feta; dried cranberries; walnuts, and finally whatever dressing was on sale and healthyish at the store!

  33. Colleen says...

    Can we please get the recipes for the pictured salads?!

  34. Sarah S says...

    My new favorite dressing comes from the Bon Appetit steak salad recipe. 1 minced shallot, 1 tbsp Dijon, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar with 5 tbsp olive oil slowly whisked in. Simple and perfect.

    • Tania says...

      This is a classic French vinaigrette, and I agree it is totally the best! I like my vinegar to oil ratio of closer to 1:2 or 3, but otherwise this is my go to. The finely minced shallot absolutely makes it. Yum!

    • Claire says...

      Same, but with fresh lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar, and kosher salt and fresh pepper.

  35. Jess says...

    I’ve been loving lunch salads during my quarentine work from home days! Agree with so many of the above tips – lettuce has been hit or miss for me at the grocery so i’ve been going for a 50/50 mix of leafy greens & cabbage, grilled chicken breast & roasted veggies (both of which i do in bulk on Sunday and use for several days) and a diced apple. Finish it all with drizzle of olive oil, big squeeze of lemon juice, S&P. it’s been so easy and delicious – the crunch of the cabbage & the apple are my favorite!

  36. lee says...

    Well the entire internet heard about Alison Roman now and not for the right reasons. One of the best newspapers in one of the biggest cultural melting pots hires her to represent all things food, a person who continues to make insensitive comments about other women? Why is this ignored? Why do white women continue to live in a world where it is ok to trample on other women to get ahead? I am perplexed and disturbed, frankly. When I googled cup of jo just now, the FIRST words that come up are Alison Roman recommends…. I find it disturbing. Niceties aside, cup of jo must do better. this is more than being about racism or insensitive, it is more than that. You have a reputation to uphold, and you influence people. Either chose to have honest discussions about important things, or chose to ignore them. But when you take sponsorships or support women who owe lots of people an apology, you make a choice, and it is unhelpful to those that need role models or want to live in a better world than we have now. I love your blog and always will but I feel too often you leave out important things, and it leaves people feeling annoyed and frustrated and like you are willing to just ignore big things. Your blog is not about ignoring big things. Love from Europe PS I also like Dinner a love story, a lot, but when I googled this tn, I was flooded with ads for Alison Roman. Why? I just deleted my cookies this morning. oddddd.

    • Emily says...

      Obviously what Alison said wasn’t right, but she did publicly issue a (seemingly) genuine apology and she is certainly living the consequences of her actions right now. It’s not COJ’s responsibility to address this if they don’t want to, and personally after seeing it discussed on *many* other outlets, I don’t want see everything rehashed here again. Please don’t attack COJ because of your computer cookies!

    • Megan says...

      I’m unclear how this comment is productive. Google search algorithms take months if not years to update, and product owners (like Jo) have almost no influence in that. Plus, your Google search results are tailored to you; not everyone sees the same Google search results.

      This post also doesn’t even mention her, but you did 3 times in your comment, which will now make Google affiliate this blog post with her name. Please try to be thoughtful about the ways you want Jo and her team to take action; sometimes a direct message to her would be more productive than a blog post comment.

    • jane says...

      I feel like this is very constructive yet polite criticism. Thank you for saying it so clearly.

    • Amy says...

      So I hadn’t heard about this Alison Roman thing yet, and when I typed in “Cup of Jo” in Google I couldn’t find her name anywhere on the first page of results. Not in ads, not links, nothing. That would definitely be Google tailoring itself to what you’ve been reading. Can’t blame CoJ for that.

    • jules says...

      Not mentioned in this piece. Why didn’t you send an email to the editors as their contact info is clearly available? This topic has been chewed up for the last 5 days.

    • whatever says...

      Look, you are obviously really upset. But maybe take a beat. As a white woman I would like to reassure you that I absolutely do not believe it is ok to trample on other women (thanks for that comment, btw), but you do realize that is what you are apparently wanting people to do here…. in response to a post about salads? In fact, it is so abhorrent to me that I refuse to get involved in trampling on Alison Roman, who I have no connection to, and no matter how good a cook she is will not influence my morals and priorities. Most of us are not that easily swayed. I don’t need CoJ to comment on it. I know without being told by a blog or an influencer that it is important to treat people with dignity and respect. Chrissy Tiegan and Marie Kondo do not need us to rescue them. They are strong, intelligent, power-house women who can take care of themselves. And if you think women need to be treated better then maybe consider not jumping into these online anger and hate parties. It’s not political activism to want to say nasty things about someone on a blog. It’s just mean.

    • Kara says...

      She didn’t show up in any of my Google searches for Cup of Jo (tried today to verify) so I think that yours are tailored to you based on your search activity for everything, not just this blog. (I even Google searched for her yesterday to understand what the controversy was about, and yet she’s not showing up in mine today.) COJ has no control over what the algorithm shows people. All they can control is what they do moving forward, ie not featuring her.

    • LK says...

      I think this incident has opened eyes to something people didn’t know about, and since it just happened Friday – Cup of Jo can not be held responsible for Roman’s actions. Moving forward the staff can decide whether to no longer work with, or delete old content, but as for internet algorithms…they can not change that (it can take a VERY long time to update). I have watched Cup of Jo over the years change their ideas, content, and staff to reflect a changing world and I am so proud of them for that. The content is thoughtful. Sometimes it takes time to create content in the internet, it is not instantaneous. Look at how much they’ve grown, and watch how Jo listens to her readers.

    • Amber says...

      I think your post has been responded to in a rational, intelligent manner by many readers. Of course we should not let racism, discrimination, etc go unnoticed but surely, as adults, we don’t need a lifestyle blog to wage continual war for us and I’ll bet we are all capable of monitoring our own behaviour and not being influenced by individuals (well said Whatever). I think CoJ makes a great effort at highlighting topical issues but it does not need to go into battle every time. Social media is all too often used to bash and bully and take down people.Highlight burning issues yes, but this vilification of individuals is, all too often, taken too far and no, I am not defending Alison Roman, I am simply saying that we don’t need to be mean, )as another commenter has already pointed out) .

  37. Lauren says...

    As a Californian, we don’t get signals of a new season through weather cues, so I have built a tradition of preparing the same 4 recipes to mark the start of each new season. It’s officially summer when I begin whipping up my all time favorite salad- fresh greens with peaches, avocado, cilantro, goat cheese and pistachios.

    • brittany says...

      That sounds great. I’d love to hear about all four!

    • Tis says...

      omg that salad sounds incredible…but I’ve stopped buying the mealy heartbreak of peaches that’ve finally made their way to the northern prairies. I’ll try it with a nectarine, which for some reason can handle the trip!

    • Amy says...

      Lauren, I would love to hear about all four of your season-starting dishes! What a fun tradition!
      I make a different pie each week in the summer, and each family member takes turns picking the flavor each week.

  38. My favorite crunch factor and to give it a kick is sliced jalapenos or serranos! YUMMMMM

  39. Kim says...

    Fully agree about good greens.
    My key to success is a good, high-quality balsamic!!
    I buy Amphora’s Traditional and Pomegranate. I no longer live in the Bay Area but have it shipped. It’s totally worth it. All I have to add is olive oil. salt, pepper, (Meyer lemons if I can somehow get it), and bam!

  40. Lindsey says...

    Favorite at-home salad: Baby romaine or spinach, sliced strawberries, candied pecans, bacon bits, Camberzola cheese wedges or goat cheese crumbles, a crank or two of black pepper and Brianna’s blush wine vinaigrette. Switch out pears for the fruit and balsamic for the dressing to mix it up.

  41. Veronica says...

    My favorite instant, cheap, on-hand salad upgrades are sliced olives or crushed tortilla chips (or, more often, both). That and eating the whole thing out of a gigantic mixing bowl. A salad doesn’t have to be sad!

    • Rosie says...

      Yes to eating it out of a gigantic mixing bowl! On my lap! I love that.

  42. Emma says...

    So timely as I’ve been wanting to get back into salads for lunch these days! My all-time-favorite vinaigrette that never fails (for those curious) is equal parts fresh citrus and oil, with a dash of honey, mustard, or chili paste and a sprinkle of S&P. You can make any kind of dressing from this: lemon juice/EVOO/dijon and sometimes a little grated garlic; lime juice, sesame oil, dash of soy and chili paste; orange juice, EVOO and grated shallot.

  43. Adel says...

    Mix your dressing well! Makes all the difference!

  44. Laura J says...

    Jenny-I make your pizza salad, not the salad pizza ; ) . I make it with store bought naan instead of making focaccia, grilled on the stovetop in a little of the mozzarella ball seasoned oil and then I cut it into crouton size pieces. I use salami and add arugula and thinly sliced red cabbage and some fresh basil if we have it. You say fresh parm to taste-I say add a lot, you won’t regret it. The salad is fabulous and always a big hit. The vinaigrette is delicious! I encourage everyone to go to Jenny’s website & try this salad. There is more than enough dressing.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Thank you Laura! I think that Parm rule is a good rule for life. Glad you like that pizza — it’s been in my rotation for a LONG TIME. We just made it two nights ago. :)

  45. Katie E. says...

    Do you have a foolproof dressing recipe? Way too often, we chop the veg, everything looks great and then the dressing is too acidic and ruins it all.

    • Scarlett says...

      I’m seconding this!! I get stuck having to buy a store-bought dressing bc I just can’t get the ratios right on a homemade dressing!

    • Milou says...

      Generally, I use 3 parts oil to 1 part acid (vinegar/lemon juice, etc.) I often add a drizzle of honey (except with Balsamic), a dash of dijon, some diced shallot, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Taste a bit with a piece of lettuce so you can adjust to your liking.

    • katie says...

      I do two parts oil to one part vinegar or citrus. Add a little salt and pepper. Then any one of these options depending on the salad/what sounds good: dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, anchovy paste, or minced garlic.

      This combo has always worked well for me. I don’t douse my salads with dressing. I add just enough to lightly coat.

    • Hannah says...

      I don’t have the expertise of Jenny, but my go to “Ceasar-ish dressing” is:

      1/3 cup olive oil
      juice of 1 lemon
      1 scant tablespoon red wine vinegar
      1/2 tsp salt
      fresh ground black pepper
      1/2 tbsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
      1 oz finely grated hard cheese (eg. parmesan)

      Blend everything but the cheese together in a mini chopper or food processor for really emulsified dressing. To save the work of mincing garlic, put your 2 whole cloves in the processor first, and then add all the other ingredients once the garlic is already minced. I find they don’t get as small if you put everything in at the same time. If you don’t have a mini chopper/processor, you can always whisk by hand – it will just separate more easily. Personal taste on acidity and salt can vary a lot, so adjust anything in the ingredients to taste. Then stir in your grated cheese by hand. This is usually enough for dressing 3 salads for 2 for me – and I usually double or triple the recipe since it keeps in the fridge.

    • Rose says...

      My workhorse salad dressing is very simple – 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar. It helps when each are of good quality. I also sprinkle about a 1/2 teaspoon of white sugar in to balance the vinegar, and then salt and pepper to taste.

    • Erin says...

      For any dressing recipe, before you pour it on the salad, dip something in it for a taste-test. A piece of lettuce or cucumber is good since their own flavors aren’t too strong. It’s easy to add more oil to course-correct if the dressing is too acidic, and leftover salad dressing keeps for several days in a jar in the fridge.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I have a lot of go-to dressings, but you can’t go wrong with this one:

      1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 lemons)
      1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
      1 teaspoon honey
      kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
      1/3 cup olive oil

      Add all ingredients except olive oil to a small bowl or jar. Shake or whisk until combined. Shake in or whisk olive oil until emulsified.

      It’s great for really fresh greens — simple and not overwhelming.

    • Emily says...

      I felt this for awhile, and then i started adding a little more salt and it helped. Also, if it’s too acidic–try just adding less acid? Mix your ratios up! Squeeze a lemon, add a few glugs of olive oil, a bit of honey or dijon, and salt and pepper into a small jar. Pop that lid and shake it for a minute. Taste it and see what you need to add!

    • Elizabeth Velasquez says...

      Ive been using the following from Jenny. It’s on her blog. It’s so good! I do reduce honey to 1 tsp.

      My favorite vinaigrette In a jar, shake the following together until emulsified: 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoon honey, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, 1/3 cup olive oil

  46. Margaret says...

    My biggest salad game changer was to let go of the “should”s and ask myself what I actually *want* to eat in my salad. And so much of that is about textural contrast, but it was also about ditching the sad giant tomato wedges or grated carrot that crop up in house salads all the time and seeing what else I could throw in that had more deliciousness.

    One of my very favorite salads I’ve recreated at home does just that and hails from a restaurant in Houston. It has infinite crunch! The base is shredded green cabbage and romaine, and you mix in jicama, cold shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, queso fresco, peanuts, fresh thyme, red onion, and crushed tortilla chips, and toss it all with a creamy garlic ranch. It has substantially more “stuff” than base, and it is just. so. good.

    • Alyssa Gomez says...

      Margaret that sounds SO much like my favorite salad at Barnaby’s Cafe in Houston! Is that the one you’re thinking of? https://www.barnabyscafe.com/

    • Margaret says...

      It IS the Barnaby’s salad! I moved away a few years ago, so I have to do it myself now, but I truly think it’s the best thing on their menu.

    • Whitney says...

      This sounds incredible! I’ve never been to Houston, but I will screenshot and recreate this salad. Thanks for sharing!

  47. celeste says...

    Anyone have a bomb recipe?

  48. Heather says...

    Farro has always added substance and a delicious nutty flavors to my salads – I highly recommend it! I’ll just make a pot and then use it throughout the week on spinach with some extras. Super easy!

  49. Marie says...

    Do you have links to the recipes for the salads pictured in this post? Would love to try, thanks!

  50. liz says...

    Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning is a god send to make a salad sing. (costco also sells a knock off if you can’t get to TJ right now)

  51. Jana says...

    Jenny, I love your salad photos always and your writing always and lately I’ve also been crushing on your table runner. Can we get a link?

  52. Megan Johnson says...

    Can we get a recipe? The top pic looks so yummy and so does the bottom one! Would love to know what simple dressing you use. Thanks!

  53. katie says...

    I’ve made your roasted beets, pickled cabbage and dill salad on numerous occasions. If I had to pick one new favorite recipe I learned how to make this year, it would be that (last year, it was butternut squash and black bean enchiladas from Love and Lemons). I’m also a fan of your greens, shallot and lemon salad, which I make at least once a week. Luckily, Gotham Greens has good produce in the winter months as a substitute for fresh.

    For years, I’ve wanted to try a CSA, but our travel schedule made it hard. Not this year, obviously. Yesterday, I finally signed up for one. I’m so excited!! I can not wait to experiment with vegetables I wouldn’t normally buy, or to find new ways to use up my vegetables for the week.