By Heidi Lewis
When you gaze into your TakeHome case, think “salad.” If you’re still leaning against the counter looking for creative inspiration, consider taking these four steps toward salad creativity: Research. Percolate. Illuminate. Assemble.
Research: Ever since our Paleo-dude forbearers set their mammoth steaks on beds of miner’s lettuce and Romans splashed olive oil on dandelion greens, salad as a dish has been evolving. The Latin root for salad is salata, meaning “salty.” A common accompaniment to a meal was raw veggies with a sprinkle of salt. Salad became its own dish when elites like Mary Queen of Scots dressed her boiled celery root in rémoulade.
Percolate: What favorite salads come to mind? Perhaps a Lunch-on-the-Patio Salad—a towering pile of crisp lettuces and veggies that avalanche at first fork. Or a colorful fresh salad like Cobb, Caesar, or Nií§oise. Could be a Honeymoon Salad—a few leaves with a drizzle of oil and lemon juice (lettuce alone—get it?). Possibly a Composed Salad—artful arrangements of beet and orange or tomato and mozzarella. Or maybe a Gemischte Salat—cooked veggies with dressing, like potato salad.
Illuminate: If you still need a little help coming up with salad ideas, call on a muse. Poetry has Erato, music has Euterpe, dance has Terpsichore, and salad has—Mark Bittman. Bittman is a home cook, professional food writer, and author of the weekly New York Times column, “The Minimalist.” His list of “101 Simple Salads for the Season” (with pictures) is practical and will inspire you to get choppin’.
Assemble: They say with ideas you should “rinse and repeat.” With lettuce or veggies for salad, it’s rinse and dry. Drying is the key to getting your dressing to stick. Assemble your salad masterpiece, admire, and ring the dinner gong.
Alice Waters’ prescription for washing lettuce—remove stems and damaged leaves, fill sink with cold water, place leaves in sink and separate, swish in water for two minutes, and drain. Dry greens with a salad spinner or place in a single layer on clean dish towels and gently roll up.
After washing and drying lettuce, place unused loose leaf lettuce in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge (unwashed head lettuce may be wrapped in a damp paper towel first), and use within 3–5 days.