A while back, one of my sons never ate salad despite enjoying a wide variety of foods. Then, as suddenly as vegetables turn brown in my crisper drawer, he started eating a salad I made. There’s nothing more infuriating than cracking the code, but not knowing how you did it! I watched him eat that salad, really watched him, and besides being a bit creepy doing that, I figured out what he was picking through in that salad. I combined this knowledge with what so many say about why restaurant salads are so good and I do believe I’ve cracked it, ladies and gents!
Taking a salad from mediocre to insanely craveable is pretty easy if you follow a few principles. First, the dressing has to be homemade. Don’t let me lose you here! If you count the number of seconds it takes you to make a dressing from scratch, you’d be amazed. This is one of those things that is worth it. If you and your family really love a bottled one, then I will not stand in your way while creepily staring at you like I did my son. Second, tossing the salad ahead of time instead of lumping the dressing all over your bowl is definitely key, but start with small amounts of dressing. My secret to a great toss is to put the dressing at the bottom of the bowl and your ingredients on top. If you need more dressing just add a little at a time and keep tossing. Lastly, chopping your ingredients into smaller bite-sized pieces ensures a perfect bite on your fork. I’ve actually gotten my other son to eat celery, but only if I slice it thinly in very small dices. It’s amazing that a dice can make all the difference, and I bet if you think of yourself, you’d be able to identify foods you like better when they’re smaller. I hope you’ll experiment at home with the salads you make and find that your family starts asking for them like mine do. Hit the Farmer’s Market now that it’s summer time and you’ll have a wonderful season of great salads!
This salad mimics a BLT sandwich with a few other “friends” like Parmesan and nuts. It’s pretty hard to turn down a salad with bacon in it, after all, and I admit, I’m not playing fair. Nor am I apologizing for it. Enjoy!
BLT Salad with Friends
1/2 c. sour cream
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 t. sugar
1 T. apple cider or sherry vinegar
1/2 t. cracked black pepper
12 c. Romaine lettuce, shredded (about 3-4 heads)
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
2 scallions, diced
1/2 c. shaved or shredded Parmesan
1/2 c. pecan bits or almond slivers
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- In large bowl, mix together sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar, vinegar and black pepper.
- Top dressing with the rest of ingredients and toss extremely well until well coated.
Jen Notes: I use light mayo and sour cream and lowfat buttermilk and I can’t tell a difference from a full fat version. You can easily double or triple this recipe for a crowd and dress it at your venue. Just be sure to keep the salad chilled. An alternative dressing that is vinegar and oil-based is a honey mustard vinaigrette. Whisk together ¼ c. white wine vinegar, 1 T. mustard, 1 T. honey and ½ t. salt. Slowly pour ¾ c. extra virgin olive oil while whisking away. Voila! Feel free to add any more “friends” to this salad like shredded carrots, avocado or shredded purple cabbage. I also really like using Napa cabbage in lieu of Romaine for this and using a crumbled feta when I don’t have Parmesan. This salad is definitely a complete meal, but you could also grill up some chicken and slice it on top as well.