The Gulf Today - Panorama - - Food - By Jean­marie Brown­son

Ilove salad. What makes a great salad? Fresh, crisp pro­duce. What makes a salad ex­tra­or­di­nary? Bal­ance and sur­prise.


Home­made dress­ing: The sin­gle best way to im­prove your sal­ads is to blend a few in­gre­di­ents in a jar for a su­pe­rior-tast­ing, low sugar, no preser­va­tive top­ping. Dress­ings can range from vine­gar and oil to more elab­o­rate con­coc­tions with cream, fresh herbs or in­ter­est­ing spices. Home­made vinai­grettes and salad dress­ings keep well in the re­frig­er­a­tor — a week or so for cream-based, longer for sim­ple vinai­grettes. Use them at room tem­per­a­ture for max­i­mum flavour and palata­bil­ity. Fresh­ness: Think fresh­ness from crisp salad greens, crunchy green onions and per­fectly ripe toma­toes.

Crunch: Nuts and crou­tons, ob­vi­ously, but other op­tions in­clude crisp ap­ples, raw root veg­eta­bles such as diced kohlrabi, shred­ded beets, car­rot curls and pa­per-thin radish slices.

Rich­ness: This could come from a de­li­cious olive oil driz­zle, shreds or cubes of cheese, av­o­cado chunks or bits of cooked ba­con. A tiny por­tion of cream, yo­gurt or sour cream added to vinai­grette en­riches a salad with min­i­mal calo­ries.

Acid: Brighten any salad, any sea­son, with de­li­cious vine­gar. Fresh lemon, lime and grape­fruit juices can also form the base of a great vinai­grette.

Salt: Yes, salt can make or break a salad. Most veg­eta­bles ben­e­fit from a lit­tle salt to en­hance their nat­u­ral flavours. Salt can also come in the form of shred­ded or grated aged cheese, such as Ro­mano or Parme­san.

Pro­tein: Even a side salad of­fers more long-last­ing sat­is­fac­tion with a bit of pro­tein added. This can be as sim­ple as a few nuts or shreds of cheese. Wedges of hard cooked-egg and canned beans, along with their low

cost, have the ben­e­fit of adding unique tex­ture too. With a bit of plan­ning, diced or shred­ded fully cooked meat, poul­try and seafood make a salad a main dish con­tender

Sur­prise: One sur­pris­ing in­gre­di­ent can ward off salad bore­dom no mat­ter the sea­son. In win­ter months, cle­men­tine or grape­fruit seg­ments, sliced olives and diced pick­led veg­eta­bles prove wel­come in just about any salad. Dur­ing other sea­sons, I add slices of ripe toma­toes and peaches, as­para­gus tips and sliced stalks, fresh peas in or out of the pod, ripe berries and shaved sum­mer squash.

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