Monday, June 25, 2018

TIP: The 6 Biggest Salad Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

Salads are supposed to be light, bright, and full of life—but too often, they hit the table flat, limp, and soggy, with all the good stuff sunk at the bottom of the bowl. There are a number of reasons this happens, and now that spring is upon us, we want our readers to enjoy the crunchiest, most satisfying salads ever. So we asked assistant food editor Claire Saffitz and test kitchen contributor Alfia Muzio to identify the most common mistakes people make when tossing up a salad. (And, honestly, this writer learned a thing or two about salad-making.) Here's their awesome advice, below:

1. Go with What You Know
There's a whole world of greens outside of arugula, mesclun, kale, and romaine. Browse your farmers' market or grocery aisle to find seasonal leafy greens for your salad base, like mâche, dandelion greens, microgreens, baby kale, chicory, and escarole. You'll be amazed how much flavor and texture they'll add. And, dear God, please stay away from iceberg (unless you're making a wedge).

2. Just Wash n' Toss
A soggy salad is a sad sight—so dry those greens! We're big proponents of the salad spinner—one of the few single-purpose kitchen items that are absolutely worth it—but if you don't have one, try this trick: Line a plastic shopping bag with paper towels, throw in your greens, and knot the bag. Then take the bag by the handle and give it a couple good, hard spins in the air. Your greens should come out (mostly) dry. You may proceed.

3. All Greens Need Is Dressing
Nope! Once they're in the bowl, you need to give your greens some undergarments before they get dressed. After you've dried them, season your naked greens with salt and pepper. (This is, incidentally, Bobby Flay's approach, too.) Think of it as another opportunity for flavor—then you won't have to over-season your dressing to compensate. Speaking of seasoning your dressing: Mustard, lemon juice, and olive oil alone do not a dressing make. Like every layer of your salad, it's important to season your dressing to taste.

4. Any Dressing Will Work
There's a lot to consider when it comes to dressing your greens. First, and most important, you need to ask yourself: Did I match my greens to my dressing? Delicate arugula won't hold up to bold, creamy Caesar dressing. Kale overpowers a light balsamic vinaigrette. Like wines, match the bold with the bold, and the light with the light. Second, try to strike the perfect balance of dressing and salad. Overdressing your salad makes it a soggy mess, while underdressing will leave something to be desired. Add dressing little by little—tasting as you go—to make sure you get the perfect amount.

5. Where Are Those Salad Tongs?
The best tool you can use for mixing salad is: Your hands. Bear with us, here: A salad should be light and airy—even if it's made with hearty greens and a creamy dressing—and handled with a gentle touch. Using your hands to toss allows air to get into your mix and incorporates your ingredients in a more distributed way. Here's our preferred way: Drizzle your dressing along the walls of your bowl, then lightly toss your greens until the dressing is evenly distributed. No bruised or crushed leaves here!

6. Toss It All Together!
Sometimes, it's best to leave some ingredients out until the last minute. We like adding in some of the heavy ingredients for the toss—like nuts, seeds, tomatoes, peas, and other bulky add-ins that sink to the bottom—then topping the salad with the rest post-toss. Your guests will get to see everything that's in the salad, and it's easier to get a little bit of everything when there's stuff on top. Also, toss your greens in dressing before adding herbs: their delicate flavor will shine through much more when they're the outermost layer.

TIP: How to Dress Any Salad Green

Anyone can make a decent salad, but it takes some skill and know-how to create a masterpiece in green. It's important, first, to brush up on the basics: Are you sufficiently drying your greens? Are your toppers crushing the delicate leaves? Once you've finished your refresher course, though, there's one big, often-overlooked piece of advice you've got to remember: You've got to pair the right dressing with the right greens.

Think this isn't a big deal? Think again. Just imagine tender spring mix leaves doused with creamy-crumbly blue cheese. They'd be smothered beyond recognition! And what about arugula with a peppercorn-heavy vinaigrette? Your salad would be tragically spicy. This is important stuff, so we called in the pros: Senior food editor Dawn Perry and assistant food editor Claire Saffitz in the Bon Appétit test kitchen gave us the rundown on what dressing is a perfect match for just about every salad your heart could desire.

Peppery arugula leaves are best when tempered with a little sweetness—try adding honey or maple to your vinaigrette. And keep in mind that arugula wilts quickly and aggressively, so avoid heavy dressings (skip the cream and Dijon mustard), and use a light hand when tossing everything together. Your best bet for a dressing? Simple salt, pepper, vinegar or lemon juice, and olive oil with just a touch of honey.

Tender Head Lettuce (bibb, red leaf, green leaf, little gem, etc.)
Similar to arugula in texture and tenderness, tender head lettuces also requires a featherlight touch. Unlike arugula, though, the leaves aren't bitter, and don't need any additional sweetness. Just salt, pepper, vinegar/lemon, and olive oil are sufficient.

Endive's intensely bitter, and it's also hefty, with thick leaves. If there was ever an opportunity to embrace sweetness and fat in a dressing, this is it: Endive can seriously hold its own against a creamy blue cheese dressing.

Also bitter, but much rougher and frillier than endive, this chicory is screaming for both fat and salt. A warm bacon vinaigrette is the classic choice—and one we particularly like. Emulsifying your dressing with an egg yolk (or just breaking a poached egg on top of the greens) wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, either.

Grains (farro, wheat berries, barley, etc.)
Grain salads need a good dressing just as much as your favorite garden salad. These chewy, filling dishes can stand up to creamier dressings that make good use of buttermilk, tahini, or mild, soft cheese. "Basically, anything goes here except ranch," says Perry. The aggressive, peppery flavor of ranch will mask the unique flavor of the grains. Be liberal with your use of herbs, and dress the grains just after cooking, while they're still warm—the dressing will be absorbed and incorporated better.

Iceberg has great crunch but not a ton of flavor, so it's up to your dressing to make things sing. We say yes to the classic blue cheese-and-bacon wedge salad, but would definitely not be mad if you whip up an ugly-but-crazy-tasty caramelized-onion dressing. To make a caramelized-onion dressing, think dip (sour cream, a little mayonnaise, some lemon for acidity, caramelized onions with fresh scallion or chive), and thin it with water until it's pourable. Ranch is A-OK, too, and in fact, the only time we advocate not using a creamy dressing with iceberg is when it's chopped up finely and dressed Italian pizza joint-style, with plenty of oregano and peperoncini.

Kale's hefty. It's important to slice it thinly so you don't suffer from jaw fatigue before the salad's half-eaten. Incorporating a good amount of acid to your dressing—think plenty of lemon juice—will further break down the cellular structure of the leaves, making them easier to eat and digest. Don't drown the greens, though; nobody likes a soggy salad. Here's more on how to make the perfect kale salad.

This chicory is bitter, like endive, but a little more tender. It can handle a dressing with Dijon or an egg yolk, but fares best without a heavy dumping of cream or mayonnaise. Don't forget the sweetener.

"The world is your oyster with Romaine," says Perry. It's crunchy like iceberg, so creamy dressings are a go, but it also fares nicely with a simple vinaigrette. Feel free to experiment.

Be wary of the wilt with spinach salads—these leaves succumb to very acidic and creamy dressings quickly. Sturdy, mature leaves can handle a little creaminess or heat (again, we're fans of that warm bacon dressing), but baby spinach needs no more than olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

Spring/Summer Mix
These tender leaves are pillow-soft. Keep things simple with the most basic vinaigrette possible, letting the sweetness of the lettuce shine through.

Swiss Chard
Chard is thin but tough. To help tenderize the leaves, tear them into bite-size pieces and dress them with something sweet and acidic, like this tomato vinaigrette. Its flavor runs toward earthy (especially the stems), so think light and bright when dressing.

Watercress looks delicate but its flavor is bossy—peppery and fresh, with some bite. Embrace fat, sweetness, and a medium-level creaminess (hello, buttermilk).

Friday, June 22, 2018

TIP: Parsley - it's not just a garnish!

If you’ve ever bought a bunch of parsley, torn off a few sprigs “to add some color,” and let the rest rot in the refrigerator—and who hasn’t?—it’s time to rethink this green. Parsley is generally available and affordable year-round. (Take that, basil.) And it can be a main ingredient in everything from salads to smoothies. Buy the flat-leaf variety, not the curly kind—it’s more versatile. Use it whole, or put it through the wringer; parsley keeps its bright color and flavor even when pureed. Most herbs, like thyme and rosemary, can quickly overpower a dish, demanding restraint. Not parsley. Its clean flavor shines with liberal use. And like most greens, it’s high in vitamins A, C, and K and folate. Make it the base of your next pesto, or shower it over meats and seafood, where it brightens up a dish like a squeeze of lemon. Just don’t let it go to waste.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

RECIPE: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Pasta and Zucchini Salad

This salad, which was featured in a Times article about Yotam Ottolenghi, was adapted from “Plenty,” his first cookbook. It is rich with vegetables and fresh herbs, and is dead simple to make. The salad comes together in under an hour, and is substantial enough for a warm evening’s supper.

black pepper
 cup sunflower oil
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
¾ cup frozen edamame
2 cups basil leaves, shredded coarsely
¼ cup parsley leaves
 cup olive oil
9 ounces strozzapreti or penne pasta
Zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ tablespoons capers
7 ounces buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium saucepan, heat sunflower oil over medium-high heat. Fry zucchini slices in batches (do not crowd them) for 3 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a colander to drain. Tip zucchini slices into a bowl, pour vinegar on top and stir, then set aside.
In the hot water, blanch edamame for 3 minutes; drain, refresh under running cold water and set aside to dry. Keep boiling water in pot.
In a food processor, combine half the basil, all of the parsley and the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and process until smooth.

In boiling water, cook pasta until al dente; drain and rinse under cold water. Return pasta to pot. Pour zucchini slices and their juices over pasta. Add edamame, basil sauce, lemon zest, capers and mozzarella. Stir together gently, then taste and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Before serving, stir in remaining basil.



  • 2 bunches small to medium radishes (about 20) trimmed and halved or sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons thyme fresh or dried
  • flakey sea salt to taste
  • black pepper freshly ground to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Brush a baking dish or rimmed tray with olive oil. *
  2. Add radishes to prepared baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, thyme, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Roast for 45 minutes, until golden and crisp, tossing them about half way through. 
  3. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and roast for 5 more minutes. Serve right away. 

Recipe Notes

*Based on feedback, some of you are roasting them at 450°F/230°C for 45-60 minutes. So you will need to do some fiddling around depending on the size of your radishes and oven. So we suggest you taste them a bit along the way and adjust accordingly. Just note that we do prefer to roast them for longer at a lower temperature for optimal results. 

Note: another option to consider is to add the small red potatoes we recently got in with the radishes!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

RECIPE: Lightened-Up Creamy Avocado Basil Pesto (no oil added)

A lightened up pesto without any added oil! The secret is using an avocado to get a creamy texture that's unbelievable!  You can also omit the pine nuts if you prefer. 
·         1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
·         1/2 large ripe avocado
·         2 cloves garlic
·         2 tablespoons pine nuts
·         1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
·         3 tablespoons water, plus more if necessary
·         1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
·         sea salt, to taste 
1.  Add basil, avocado, garlic, pine nuts and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse for 20 seconds or until pesto is chopped. Add in water and process again until completely smooth. You may need to add more water to get it to your desired consistency; I like mine a little on the thicker side. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.
2.  Store in an airtight container or sealed mason jar and refrigerate. Pesto is best if used within a few days, otherwise you can freeze it for several months.
New to pesto? Here are some delicious ways to enjoy it:
-Toss 1/4 cup in with some whole grain or gluten free pasta for an easy weeknight dinner. Add chicken for extra protein.
-Stir into cooked quinoa and add a few cherry tomatoes for an easy weekday vegetarian lunch.
-Spread it on toast and top with a few other extras like sliced tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and chia seeds
-Use it as a sandwich spread for your grilled cheese; it’ll add a ton of flavor!
-Toss in 1/2 cup spinach for extra nutrition! 

RECIPE: Jessica’s Marinated Chickpeas

These marinated chickpeas are a little spicy, a little sweet, and totally irresistible. This recipe as great on its own as a light meal or appetizer, or served on salads or inside pitas. Recipe yields about 6 side servings.


  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ⅔ cup chopped roasted red peppers (I used most of a 12-ounce jar)
  • ⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (scale back significantly if sensitive to spice)


  1. In a medium serving bowl, combine the chickpeas, red peppers, feta and basil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Pour the dressing over the chickpeas and stir. Cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, for best flavor. The salad keeps for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.


Recipe from The Pretty Dish by Jessica Merchant. I doubled it.
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE: I think you could replace the feta with sliced Kalamata olives and/or sliced pepperoncini peppers, to taste. They won’t make up for the creaminess of the feta, though.
CHANGE IT UP: Jessica suggests that you can substitute cannellini or great Northern beans for the chickpeas.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

TIP: Flowering Hon Tsai Tai

Every so often we get a veggie that confuses us all. Last week it was Flowering Hon Tsai Tai.

From google searching, members attempted to prepare this uncommon green but still had some issues.  I decided to reach out to our farmer as I thought perhaps it was meant to be placed in a pretty vase and admired from afar! :) 

Not so. Here is how Gerry, from Hepworth Farms, prepares it:

Cut up, flowers and all, into small pieces but do not include the hard stems at the bottom. Saute' in olive oil with tamarind sauce. Be sure to cook it enough until you can easily poke a fork in to. The flowers are a sweet addition to the dish. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

TIP: Cilantro

Cilantro. Some people love it.... and some people don't. Either way you are bound to see it several times this season so let's see if I can convert any naysayers with a few recipes and tips! Cilantro like other fresh herbs won't last too long in the refrigerator so I'll try to plan on making a simple guacamole and add some to my salads for a little kick.

I also love making pesto with cilantro, or in combination with spinach, parsley and/or arugula. If you haven't tried making pesto without cheese, you would be surprised how much you won't miss it.....and the extra calories. I also try and change it up by using walnuts every now and again instead of the typical pine nuts. and change it up by using walnuts every now and again instead of the typical pine nuts. I'll put the finished pesto in ice cube trays and after they have "frozen" I'll pop out and keep in zip lock bags until future use in pasta (obviously) eggs, steamed veggies or as a pizza topping!

Do you have any great cilantro uses? If so please forward to!

Monday, June 11, 2018

How to Store Fresh Herbs

There are two popular methods to store fresh herbs: the paper towel method and the mason jar/plastic bag method. Both work, but you have to know which herbs work best for which method. Fresh herbs can last up to two weeks depending on the variety and method! See what works in your home environment, as well. If your home is too warm, perhaps don’t leave the herbs out on the counter or a windowsill and use the refrigerator method.

Soft herbs include parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, tarragon, and mint. Basil and/or mint can be left out at room temperature (I’ve put mint in the fridge and it survived just fine). All other herbs should be refrigerated. This method helps the herbs retain moisture and keeps oxygen from browning the leaves.

Directions for soft herbs:
1. Cut bottom of the stems
2. Make sure your herbs are completely dry. Avoid rinsing until you are about to use them, to avoid mold or wilting.
3. Fill a jar or glass with about one inch of water, or enough to submerge the base of stems. “Plant” stem ends into water in jar.
4. Cover loosely with with plastic or ziplock bag, bound at the base with a rubber band.
5. Place in fridge. Change water every few days if water becomes discolored.

Hard herbs include rosemary, thyme, chives, oregano, and sage. The paper towel method keeps the herbs moist to avoid drying out and again keeps oxygen from getting in.

Directions for hard herbs:
1. Wrap herbs loosely in a damp paper towel
2. Store in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag in your crisper.