HOW TO MAKE SALAD - NYT COOKING
Salad may be easy, but that doesn't mean it doesn't require any effort. Julia Moskin shows you how to make it the brightest part of a meal.
Provided by Julia Moskin
- In an ideal world, we would all have easy access to salad greens, fresh from local farms. But in truth, our greens come from all corners, and we often don’t have time for washing until right before dinner. (And we may not even be doing that correctly.) Don’t let that dissuade you: Proper washing technique isn’t all that complicated, and, as long as your greens are good, a great salad can be in reach.The array of greens on the market keeps growing, along with innovations in rooftop farming and aquaponics make a sprightly salad possible almost any time of year. Whenever you can, look for seasonal or local greens. Both are more likely to be fresh than supermarket produce. (Farmers’ markets or stores that stock local produce are good places to start.)To find out what’s fresh in your market, check the Department of Agriculture website for your state; most publish seasonal produce charts. You might stumble upon a locally grown green you wouldn’t normally consider for your salad.If that’s not available to you, it’s fine to buy prepackaged greens: If doing so means you’ll eat salad more often, that’s a net gain. But note that expiration dates are no guarantee of freshness. You’ll want to rely on your eyes, and check the package carefully on all sides to ensure there is no sign of browned or wilted leaves. Yellow or brown patches and edges are sure signs of age. And, no matter what the bag says, always wash your greens.If browsing for whole heads of lettuce, turn over and inspect the base; it should show only the slightest signs of browning. Press a fingernail into the base of a leaf. If some liquid oozes out, that means the leaves are fresh and juicy. A few slightly wilted leaves on the outside are not a problem, but if the whole head is droopy, pass it up.Before washing, tear or cut leaves into the size you want for the finished salad. If possible, trim and wash greens when you get them home, so they can begin to regain their water content.If keeping packaged greens for more than a couple of days, unseal the package, and turn it over a few times to fluff the greens and keep air circulating. Add a damp paper towel if the greens seem to be drying out. But try to use them quickly, as they are freshest just out of the bag.A quick rinse in running water is fine for pre-washed greens, but it won’t get other greens really clean. For the ideal sand-free, fluffy greens, fill a sink or large bowl (such as the bowl of a salad spinner) with cold water. Add the greens and swish them gently to release grit and any nasty bits. They’ll sink to the bottom, while the clean leaves will float to the top. Use your hands to lift the leaves out and shake them. Then dry them in the spinner or roll in a towel. Refrigerate in the damp towel or wrap the greens in damp paper towels and store in bags. The moisture will keep the greens fluffy longer. Keep all salads in the refrigerator until minutes before serving. They wilt quickly at room temperature.
- A green salad is a great friend to the home cook. Once you’re deep into making dinner, figuring out how to also get a fresh vegetable on the table can seem impossible. Enter the simple green salad. Just a serving of fresh leaves, it doesn’t need much more than a vinaigrette, but if you like the taste and color that come with a sprinkle of shredded carrots, finely sliced onions or diced tomato, they absolutely belong in your bowl.Clockwise from bottom left, all-purpose baby arugula, sturdy kale, soft Bibb lettuce, and peppery dandelion greens.Sometimes a salad made only of peppery watercress or delicate Bibb lettuce is just the thing. But even the green salad, the simplest kind of salad, can be so much more, incorporating several kinds of tastes and textures. Here, it helps to know the basic categories of greens (soft, all-purpose, sturdy and peppery), each one with distinct characteristics that “behave” differently in the bowl. SOFT GREENS: This members of this group are defined by their pale or light-green leaves. They are sweet and will wilt easily. Varieties include baby lettuces; baby spinach; butterhead, Bibb or Little Gem; mâche; mesclun, also known as spring mix; and soft herbs like basil, celery leaves, cilantro, mint and shiso.ALL-PURPOSE: These greens are defined by their crisp leaves and mild flavor. They include lettuces like iceberg, oak leaf, red and green leaf, and romaine, as well as baby arugula, baby spinach and purslane.STURDY: These greens have thick dark green leaves with fibrous stems, a strong vegetal taste and sturdy leaves that do not wilt. They include beet tops and greens, chard, escarole, kale and spinach.PEPPERY: The members of this group are defined by strong pungent or bitter flavors, and a crispy, juicy texture. Among them are arugula, dandelion greens, endive, frisée, radicchio, mizuna (an Asian member of the mustard family) and watercress.Feel free to experiment: Start by choosing a green from each category, aiming for three or four kinds, then add a vinaigrette and, if you like, a topping or two. Tinker with the combination each time you make it, and soon you’ll find a “house salad” that you love and can put together in a snap.
- The big salad is more than just a collection of dressed greens in a large bowl: It appeals to our eternal craving for a healthy, satisfying meal. A classic example is the salade niçoise, a perfect lunch on a summer day in the Mediterranean. But there’s also a perfect salad for a winter day in Minnesota. There’s no magic to putting it together, only a willingness to experiment.For the ideal big salad, there’s no one recipe, but there are some rules. Start with sturdier greens: soft lettuces tend to get squashed in a big salad.Next, add one or two elements each from the three major categories: fruits and vegetables, proteins and starches. We’ll go into more detail below. You can use whatever is on hand, or aim for an artistic mix of textures, colors, shapes and tastes; either way, what you make is likely to be good. Six to eight total ingredients, before toppings, is the right number: Too few, and your palate will get bored before you’re done eating; too many, and the bowl gets crowded and confusing.Look for a substantial dressing — one with a creamy element like avocado, cheese, tahini or yogurt — to bind it all together. Toss gently to avoid crushing soft ingredients.(If you’re making this kind of salad for a large group, divide the ingredients on a platter; here’s our guide to assembling a composed salad.)When composing a big salad, fruits and vegetables add heft, but, more important, they provide an appealing jumble of colors and flavors. Once you’ve chosen your greens, you’ll want to choose one or two from this category and add them before dressing your salad. How you prepare and slice them will affect the consistency.Apples, avocados, bell peppers, celery, carrots, cucumbers, fennel, mushrooms, onions, pears, radishes, snap peas, snow peas, summer squash like zucchini, and tomatoes (drained on paper towels, if watery) are best raw and thinly sliced or julienned (peeled, if necessary).Figs, grapes, nectarines, melons, mangoes, peaches and small tomatoes are benefit being raw, and cut into bite-size pieces.Asparagus, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, edamame, peas and string beans should be cooked until tender, and cut into bite-size pieces.Protein is optional, but it adds another level of satiation; use one item from this category or, at most, two. If using soft ingredients like salmon or tofu, add them at the very end, after tossing, so they don’t fall apart in the bowl.Use a cured meat, like prosciutto, jamón serrano or country ham, in very thin slices. Similarly, thinly sliced saucisson sec, aged chorizo, salami, bacon or pancetta can add a salty bite along with protein.Or try fish, like grilled or canned tuna, salmon or another meaty fish; smoked trout, salmon, mackerel or whitefish; and shrimp or squid that’s been poached, roasted or grilled.There’s also always tried-and-true chicken (poached, roasted or grilled) or steak, cut into small pieces.For meatless options, try cubed or sliced tofu, cheese in small cubes or crumbled, eggs (hard-boiled and quartered, soft-boiled and halved, or poached and left whole).If that’s not enough substance, starches (whether grains or vegetables) make the salad filling and satisfying.Consider beans and legumes (white, cranberry, cannellini, black, chickpeas, lentils); grains, like quinoa, farro, bulgur wheat and barley; roasted or boiled potatoes; and roasted sweet potatoes or winter squash. They can all add much needed heft to your big salad.But make sure these ingredients are well cooked: Underdone beans or hard squash will not absorb dressing or combine nicely.
- A single-subject salad lets you show off one perfect fruit or vegetable and add a little elegance to the meal. It lies on a plate, is eaten with a knife and fork, and usually isn’t tossed but drizzled with dressing. Whatever you choose, feel free to try different toppings, like fluffy herbs, slivered nuts, crumbled cheese or edible flowers.You might never have thought of it this way, but the classic Southern Italian Caprese, made by layering slices of ripe tomato and fresh mozzarella, is a single-subject salad, as is cucumber sunomono, the popular Japanese salad. This style is a classic way to show off a vegetable with a short season, like springtime asparagus, summer tomatoes or even fall mushrooms, and it starts with beautiful, in-season produce. Some options include steamed or boiled asparagus, thinly sliced avocados, roasted and sliced beets, steamed and roasted carrots, endive spears, raw or steamed fennel, steamed or boiled green beans, halved and poached leeks, raw and thinly sliced mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, and roasted and sliced winter squash. Drizzle any of these with the dressing and toppings of your choosing for an elegant and simple side.
- A homemade dressing is the best way to lift a salad, and it’s easier than you might think. For the most part, homemade dressings keep well in the refrigerator, and don’t have the sugar, stabilizers and preservatives found even in the fanciest bottled dressings. Don’t be afraid to experiment: Once you’ve mastered a vinaigrette, it’s easy to try mustard and tarragon, or to make the leap to a creamy lemon dressing.There’s a golden rule when it comes to pairing greens with a dressing: Match the weight of your dressing to the sturdiness of your greens. Muscular kale and romaine can support a thick Caesar dressing, but soft mesclun leaves will wilt under the pressure. A light vinaigrette sets off Bibb lettuce, but it won’t have much impact on a salad of beet greens.But rules on flavors are less hard and fast. In choosing a dressing for a side salad, you might play off the regional flavors of the main course. If pasta or pizza is the entrée, you might add a little dried oregano and fresh garlic to a basic vinaigrette, or mustard and shallots, if your salad is paired with French flavors. But, with smoky grilled or barbecued food, a buttermilk dressing tastes just right. Peppery greens bring their own bitterness to the bowl, so a dressing for them should be low in acid and relatively rich.The classic profile of a salad dressing combines tangy, rich, salty, and sometimes sweet. As a rule, a “vinaigrette” is based on an acid (like vinegar or citrus) and an oil. How much of each, though, is a matter of taste. Some people like their vinaigrettes to be half oil, half vinegar, while others go all the way up to one part vinegar to six or seven parts oil.When putting together any vinaigrette, you’ll want to follow these steps:1. Always start by dissolving the salt in the acid (usually lemon juice or vinegar, or buttermilk). This will evenly distribute the saltiness throughout the dressing.2. Next, choose your vinegar, remembering that not all are created equal. Different vinegars have different levels of sweetness, acid and viscosity. Wine vinegars are less sharp than white or apple cider, and even rice wine vinegar is much lower in acidity than red wine vinegar. Always put in less than you think you need.3. Choose your oil, taking into consideration the most important factor: taste. Spending top dollar for organic, extra-virgin, cold-pressed oil is no guarantee of flavor or freshness. Olive oil can be mild and lush or green and peppery, but you’ll need to taste it and see what you like. Many dressings are best with a more neutral oil like grapeseed, avocado or canola. Nut oils can be delicious in salad, but just use a teaspoon or so as flavoring in a neutral oil. If you want to bolster the flavor of your dressing with garlic, but don’t want its sharpness, smash and peel a clove or two, then steep in the oil for the dressing for 20 to 30 minutes. (Use it up; oil stored with raw garlic in it can spoil.)4. Gradually whisk the oil into the acid, or put them together in a tightly closed jar and shake like crazy. This best emulsifies the dressing. A stirred dressing may taste fine off the spoon, but it won’t taste as good in the bowl: The ingredients will separate. Use a large bowl and a fast-moving whisk or fork to bring the dressing together before adding it to the salad.For the fastest dressing, there’s no need to mix. Once the salad is in the serving bowl, sprinkle it very lightly with lemon juice or vinegar. Toss, preferably with your fingers, until leaves are evenly coated. Repeat with oil, then with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- There’s a reason for using wooden or plastic spoons to toss salad; they are softer and lighter than metal, and less likely to crush delicate salad greens. That said, the best implements for tossing are your hands: They are strong, gentle and can help you gauge when the salad is evenly tossed.Pour in about half the dressing and gently dig both hands down to the bottom. Lift the bottom ingredients to the top, letting them drop from your hands once above the rim of the bowl.Always start with less dressing than you think you need: You can always add more, but too much dressing will drown the salad and can’t be undone. Toss, then taste, and add more if needed.Repeat until all of the ingredients have a shine to them. Taste to see if more dressing is needed. Keep tossing, gently tumbling the ingredients over one another, until evenly coated.To hold a salad for serving, pour the dressing into the serving bowl, place the salad spoons in the bowl and cross the handles over the dressing. Rest the salad on top of the crossed spoons and refrigerate until ready to toss and serve, up to an hour.Salads made of lettuce and other tender greens should be dressed at the last moment to prevent wilting. (Take care when working with them: Too much tossing can flatten them.) But salads made with sturdy greens like kale and chard can be dressed up to an hour in advance. The acid in the dressing will break down the tough leaves, making them more tender.
- Some ingredients taste best atop a salad, rather than in it. Crunchy elements, like croutons or popcorn, run the risk of getting soggy when mixed with dressing, and others, like nuts and dried fruit, are best as is. Use two toppings at the most for a small salad, and one from each category for a big one; more than that, and things get confusing.• Cheeses: burrata, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese• Caramelized onions• Chopped or slivered toasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts• Thinly sliced avocado• Bread croutons, either thin slices or small cubes• Roughly torn bread, pita, or flatbread, toasted• Roasted chickpeas• Popcorn• Crisp-fried sliced onions or shallots• Toasted whole pine nuts• Sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds• Snipped herbs• Fresh berries and diced fruit• Minced preserved lemon rind• Pomegranate seeds• Spice mixes like togarashi or dukkah• Dried fruits and berries• Olives• Anchovies, white or traditional• Cornichons• Pickled onions• Capers (plain or fried) and caperberries
STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS RECIPE - NYT COOKING
Portobello mushrooms are a great option for a vegan or vegetarian main course, because they are large enough to fill a plate, and can be stuffed with a variety of flavors. For reader Dianne Wenz of West Orange, small stuffed mushrooms were always a holiday side dish -- until the year she decided not to serve them. "I didn't make them one year, thinking no one would notice, but my dinner guests were disappointed that they were missing from the holiday table,” said Ms. Wenz. “To make up for it, the following year I made jumbo portobellos stuffed with beans, spinach, and I made them the star attraction of the meal."
Provided by Tara Parker-Pope
Total Time 40 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Number Of Ingredients 14
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the mushroom caps on it, upside down. Whisk together 3 teaspoons olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, ¼ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Brush the mushrooms with the mixture and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining olive oil and cook the shallots for 5 minutes, until beginning to brown. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the spinach and broth. Remove from heat as soon as the spinach begins to wilt.
- In a large bowl, mix together the shallot-spinach mixture, beans, parsley, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast and the remaining sea salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among the mushrooms. Sprinkle the tops with some extra breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast for more crunch, if desired. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until heated throughout. Serve hot.
Nutrition Facts : @context http//schema.org, Calories 227, UnsaturatedFatContent 4 grams, CarbohydrateContent 33 grams, FatContent 6 grams, FiberContent 9 grams, ProteinContent 15 grams, SaturatedFatContent 1 gram, SodiumContent 297 milligrams, SugarContent 7 grams, TransFatContent 0 grams
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