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How To: The Perfect Salad

A Guide on Creating Salads to Savor

POSTED June 27, 2016

Really, the idea of building the perfect salad sounds easy enough. Lettuce, check. Veggies, check. Something crunchy, check. Dressing, check. But what kind of lettuce? Which fresh produce items should I buy? Is there something more interesting that croutons to add some crunch? And the dressing… bottled or homemade? Often times we get stuck in the same tired routine, always making the same salad.

We’re here to help!

The paired up gourmet goodies in our DeLallo SaladSavors® Salad Toppings make for an excellent kickstart to an extraordinary salad. Each variety includes a featured cheese, such as Asiago or Gorgonzola, and two additional complementary toppings (fruit, nuts, olives, artichoke hearts, etc.). Now all that’s left to do is choose your lettuce and a dressing—oh, and a protein if you’re looking for a heartier salad experience.

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Lettuce & Salad Greens

Otherwise thought of as your salad’s “base,” leafy greens are a dime a dozen. While they may look similar, lettuces and salad mixes have their own, sometimes very different, flavor profiles. Whether you’re into crunchy, mild-flavored greens or heartier, protein-packed spinach leaves—there’s a combo for you. And these days, lettuce and salad mixes come pre-washed and packaged in the produce section, making the salad-making process even more convenient! 

 

ESCAROLE
Best when young and tender with a pleasantly bitter, firm bite.

ROMAINE
Crisp, slightly bitter with a prominent rib down the center of its leaves, giving a snappish crunch.

BUTTER LETTUCE (BOSTON/BIBB)
Delicate, mildly sweet leaves with a bushy appearance; a nice bed for numerous salad toppings and ingredients.

(RED & GREEN) LEAF
Ruffled, somewhat crisp and full of earthy flavor with a deep coloring.

WATERCRESS
Laden with crunchy stems, round dark green leaves and a bold peppery, nutty flavor.

RADICCHIO
Bitter, cabbage-style lettuce with a deep red coloring, white ribs and a super firm crunch. (Also good for cupping salads and other bites in its sturdy leaves.)

SPRING MIX (MESCLUN)
Loose, tender baby lettuce leaves with (typically) a bitter flavor tossed in a colorful mix.

ICEBERG
Super crisp leaves with a very mild flavor; valued more for its texture than taste.

ARUGULA (ROCKET)
Best when young, dark green in color with a full-flavored bitter and peppery bite.

SPINACH LEAVES
Bright green with a mild, slightly bitter flavor and ever-tender bite. (Be sure to rinse well, as it has a tendency to be gritty.)

Keep in mind…

  • When washing greens, do so gently by submerging them in a large bowl of cool water. Dry well—wet lettuce dilutes dressing and won’t allow dressing to cling to leaves.
  • It’s up to you on how to cut your lettuce, smaller bites or bigger leaves. But be sure to cut away any thick woody stems or tough ribs.
  • As a general rule, bitter lettuce varieties are best paired up with sweeter or more citrusy dressings like balsamic.

 

SaladSavors®

Only a few feet away from your bagged lettuce selections, in the produce department, are DeLallo SaladSavors®. Perfectly portioned for one bag of lettuce, our toppings are a convenient way to give your salads some gourmet flair—without all the worry and cutting and prepping. SaladSavors® come in six varieties of amazing so your salads can always taste great, no matter how much time you don’t have to gather ingredients.

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Dressings & Vinaigrettes

At DeLallo, we are all about the vinaigrettes, especially those made with our 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Cold-pressed oils are best used crudo or raw, because their natural flavors shine through without being cooked out. Vinegars are plentiful and can range from balsamic and raspberry to apple cider and red wine. Like any other accoutrement, the dressing should serve to lightly complement the rest of the salad. Each SaladSavors® package comes with an easy-to-prepare homemade dressing recipe specific to that variety, along with a lettuce pairing idea. Bottled dressings are good in a pinch, but why not create your own at home? It’s not as hard as you’d think—and it’s definitely rewarding! Some tasty and typical salad dressing ingredients include fresh herbs, citrus or fruit juices, Dijon mustard, spices, creamy elements (like yogurt or sour cream) and cheese.

Proteins (optional)

For some occasions, salads are more than just a side dish or light lunch, but their own entrée. Adding grilled shrimp, slices of roasted chicken or sautéed skirt steak can give your salads the hearty boost they need to fill you up. And for those who don’t eat seafood, poultry or meat, adding a hearty sprinkling of chickpeas or white beans to a salad can really up the ante. 

SALADSAVORS® PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

Vibrant SaladSavors®
+ Spinach Leaves + Tangy Apple Vinaigrette + Skirt Steak

Bold SaladSavors®
+ Baby Kale Leaves + Honey Garlic Vinaigrette + Roasted Chicken 

Zesty SaladSavors®
+ Romaine Lettuce + Garlic Oregano Vinaigrette + Grilled Chicken 

Fresh SaladSavors®
+ Spring Mix + Citrus Vinaigrette + Grilled Salmon

Sharp SaladSavors®
+ Romaine Hearts + Tomato-Herb Vinaigrette + Grilled Chicken

Crisp SaladSavors®
+ Romaine Hearts + Maple Apple Dijon Vinaigrette + Roasted Chicken

Tangy SaladSavors®
+ Spring Mix + Citrus Balsamic Dressing + Blackened Salmon

Here are our suggestions, but now is the time to get creative!
We can’t to see what SaladSavors® salad combination you think up next!