Nothing beats a colorful tossed salad at the center of your table. With so many variations, you can serve it in any season with any meal. Serving a fresh tossed salad is an art form perfected through practice and professional-grade kitchen tools. When done properly, the toppings and flavors combine to create a satisfying dish that can be served as an appetizer or a stand-alone meal.
Eating fresh salad daily has multiple health benefits and can be part of a sustainable weight-loss regimen. You’ll gain a boost of vitamins and antioxidants that will keep you energetic all day long. Here’s what it takes to toss salad like a professional and create your own signature dish that everyone will love!
Shopping for Your Salad
Before you begin shopping, choose your salad style based on the season to make sure you get the freshest ingredients. This will be the difference between your standard supermarket salad and a crisp, fresh salad. Here are some guidelines to follow for preparation:
- Shop local ingredients only. Avoid ingredients that aren’t in season or may have been transported from far-away locations. For example, in June, choose fresh strawberries. In the winter months, choose kale or beets with goat cheese.
- Shop the day before or the day of serving. Keeping it fresh is key – nobody likes a wilted brown lettuce leaf. You can easily avoid this by shopping as close to the time of serving as you can.
- Look for organic fare. Try your local farmer’s market or health food store for the best selection of healthy organic ingredients.
When you arrive home, store your ingredients in a cool space or refrigerator until you’re ready to begin the process of washing and chopping.
Slicing and Dicing!
Each ingredient has its ideal shape and size. Familiarize yourself with your ingredients, and make sure to wash and dry them thoroughly before you begin this step. If you are lucky enough to find garden-fresh organic produce, check through each portion of your ingredients in case you find any sneaky critters!
Here are some other tips for slicing and dicing each ingredient of your salad:
- Spin it to win it! Invest in a salad spinner to remove additional moisture from the leaves and avoid wilting. You can wash and spin the leaves before chopping to maintain a fresh texture.
- Buy professional-grade chef’s knives to make slicing easier. If you’ve been using sub-par cutting tools, you don’t know what you’re missing.
- For some salads, specialty tools might be in order. A garlic press or lemon juicer are great items to have on hand in your kitchen for ease of use.
Now it’s time to get to work. Sort your ingredients into portions and bowls, and start creating your ideal salad toppings one at a time.
Countertop, Bar, or Salad Cart?
Time to think about where you will make your salad. Depending on your kitchen space, you may have an open area or countertop that allows you to become the center of attention. Here are some other ways you can add the wow factor!
- Instead of preparing the entire salad before the meal, consider tossing the salad right in front of your family and friends so you can showcase your skills.
- If you don’t have a bar or countertop, set up a long table nearby where your guests can see you make the salad right in front of them.
- A rolling salad cart may add the resort-style surprise you’re looking for! You can place all the ingredients and tools on your cart, and wheel it in when you’re ready to put it all together.
If you’re entertaining, you’ll want to make sure your serving locale is near enough to the table so you can converse with friends and family while you create.
More Essential Tools for the Toss
You’ll need some other essential items to bring the entire salad together. Beyond quality knives and chopping mechanisms, here are some other essential tools you’ll want to keep on hand for tossing your salad like a pro.
You’ll want an oversized bowl to toss your salad without spills and a variety of serving bowls and platters for the table setting. We love woven wooden bowls for the classic look.
Purchase a set of quality spoons to toss the salad. Look for wood materials like coconut, bamboo, or olive wood when it comes to durability and appearance. The natural material will keep your salad from looking wilted when you toss.
You should have a set of salad tongs to serve your salad and help pick up hard-to-grip pieces that may naturally slip to the bottom.
Salad Dressing Shaker
Purchase a large salad dressing shaker to hold enough dressing for your salad. You can save any leftover dressing for another meal. You can even use a salad dressing shaker to prepare the dressing ahead of time and shake it when you’re ready to serve.
Make the Dressing
Make a simple salad dressing from scratch, or skip this step and move on to the toss if you prefer the ease of a store-bought version. There are some simple combos you can throw together on the fly.
- Keep olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, and other forms of vinegar on hand to create a dressing that compliments your salad.
- For a creamy dressing, make sure you have yogurt, sour cream, or heavy whipping cream to add.
- Don’t forget to have an ample supply of dry and fresh herbs and spices on hand. Want to really impress? Pick some fresh basil straight from your countertop garden.
Place your salad dressing in a shaker or bowl with a whisk so you can keep it from separating between servings. You can also leave your fresh herbs in a small pot or bowl on the side and let your guests add some before they dig in.
The Tossing Technique
Now, it’s time to put it all together. Add some mood music if you want, and get ready to present your master skills! Follow these easy steps to achieve the perfectly tossed salad:
- Place all your needed materials on the table or cart: bowl, salad ingredients, dressing, and spoons.
- Add the ingredients and dressing into the oversized mixing bowl, and keep your tools close at hand.
- Begin by placing your salad spoons or tongs into the very bottom of the mixing bowl to grab any items that fell to the bottom. Lift from the bottom up and toss the salad until it looks well combined.
- Grab your salad tongs and taste a small salad sample in a bowl to see if it’s right. Repeat as necessary until all ingredients are combined to taste. Be careful not to mix too much; this can create brown spots or wilting.
- Serve each guest immediately. Voila, you have a fresh tossed salad.
Leave the salad in the center of the table or an easily accessible area so your guests can keep coming back for more.
Don’t forget to enjoy some fantastic salad yourself!