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Let me prove to you that salads are not boring. They are not life-less, flavor-less foods that you only eat if you are trying to be healthy.
Salads can be that, but they shouldn’t be. If you’re only familiar with plain, boring salads then I am so excited to introduce you to the DK House Salad.
I love salads, dare I say crave salads like I crave a piece of pizza or a giant basket of French fries or one of my salted chocolate tahini cookies. It’s one of my favorite meals (especially this time of year) and a meal I love ordering out.
I have no patience for sad salads. You know the type– a few pieces of almost wilted lettuce, a cherry tomato or two, maybe a sprinkle of shredded carrot and a side of bottled dressing. NO, THANK YOU. If that’s what you think of salads, then I can’t wait to prove you wrong.
My mom made a salad almost every night for dinner growing up. In the Italian way, we ate salad after our main course, and it was typically just various greens (often from the garden), a sliced and peeled cucumber, tomatoes if they were in season and good quality olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. It was simple and it was delicious.
I’d have friends over for dinner who insisted they didn’t like salad only to wolf down bowl after bowl of my mom’s house salad. Even now, her salad is requested at neighborhood potlucks and my best friend from high school still insists that my mom’s salad is the best she’s ever had.
The secret? She perfected her house salad. She understood that a variety of well-seasoned greens and homemade dressing can transform a basic salad into a beautiful one. She also tossed the salad well before serving, which allows the greens to soak up all the yummy dressing and makes every bite delicious.
Over the years, I’ve transformed my house salad and this version is the one that I serve most often. It’s customizable based on what you have around the house, but the key is a variety of textures and flavors that make salad anything but boring.
I like starting with a variety of salad greens—usually romaine for crunch and often arugula or shredded kale for contrasting color and texture. My husband isn’t a fan of all-kale salads, but he’ll happily gobble down a bowl that contains some with other crunchy, less-bitter greens. This isn’t a rule, but if you have a few options in your fridge then I recommend using them.
The balance of salt and acid is key in good salads, which means you’ll need to use both. If you ask my mom the secret to her house salad, she’ll tell you to add more salt than you think you need.
For me, I prefer to quickly season any watery ingredients like tomatoes or cucumbers with salt and pepper first, then add them to the greens.
If I’m using avocado, tossing it with a little bright lemon juice, lime juice or other acid helps to balance the creamy texture. You don’t have to use avocado and it’s not a must in this salad; a creamy cheese would also work or omit all together if desired.
Once you make this simple dressing, you may never go back to regular dressing again. While my mom relied only on olive oil and vinegar, I prefer to add in a small clove of grated garlic for extra flavor and Dijon mustard to help emulsify the oil and vinegar together.
The key to getting the garlic to dissolve in the vinegar is to use a microplane grater. Rub the clove over the grate into your dressing bowl; doing this ensures that no one bites down on a big piece of raw garlic. It will melt into the dressing as you whisk it.
From there, slowly add in good quality extra-virgin olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
To really take your house salad to the next level, add in dried fruit and nuts. To keep things healthy and easy, I’m relying on the Mariani Family’s new Salad Toppers. Open the bag and toss on—the Sweet & Tangy variety is one of my favorites with cranberries, blueberries and honey roasted almonds.
If you want to add excitement to your salads, these simple salad toppers are great! Other flavors include Nuts and Cherries, Smoky Southwest, Hawaiian BBQ and Spicy Apricot. You can find them on Mariani.com and in select retailers. You can use code ‘Alex25’ for 25% off your entire Mariani.com shopping cart, with Toppers in your cart.
Toss everything together and enjoy! Once you get the hang of this salad, it takes only minutes to put together. It really tastes like a restaurant salad and is considered my house salad for a reason.
The DK House Salad! My house salad that I serve at least 4-5x a week. Greens, vegetables, avocado, nuts, dried fruits and the best homemade dressing.
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