It’s time again to talk about salads. I love a good salad. But I preface that statement with good for a reason: salad can be boring, and they for sure don’t have to be.
I like to take the chore out of just including a salad with a meal and try to make them the main attraction. It doesn’t have to be different. It doesn’t have to always have homemade dressing, though I think it should. It just has to be well prepared, not boring and taste good.
My definition of good starts with fresh, seasonal produce as the base for the dish.
First, check over the greens before you buy them. Do they feel crisp? Is there anything soggy about the leaves? Don’t buy them if so, and find a batch that are in good shape.
Next, find things to go in the salad that are in season. Right now you can get fresh asparagus. I use them all the time when they are in season during the spring, especially in my salads. Pretty soon we will be getting in peas. Out West they come in later, but start looking for freshly shelled peas soon as they are amazing in salads.
The fun thing about salads is that lettuce is essentially a blank canvas. You can add almost anything to it. You can make a sweet salad, adding fruit and goat cheese and using a lemon poppy seed dressing. Or, you can go the more traditional savory version and include almost any topping you can think of with a vinegar-based dressing.
The dressing I am including with this column is a new favorite. I asked a friend what she had been cooking lately, and she said she was in love with a yogurt tahini dressing. I was making a salad that night for a dinner party and needed something new and inspiring so she sent me the recipe.
I had a few things for the dressing recipe she sent but was missing a few items so I improvised and came up with this recipe. It is simply delicious. I am in love with it. I tasted it so many times while making it perfect just to be sure and each time wanted more.
Tahini is delicious, and I sometimes forget to use this sesame paste. But every time I do I remember why I love it. It is rich and creamy but also good for you and adds a unique, slightly nutty flavor to your food.
This dressing would be great on a lot of salads. I used it on spring greens with grated carrots, chopped asparagus and crushed pistachios. I think I am going to use it tonight on a Greek pita dinner with grilled chicken and veggies.
Off the top of my head, I would add it to a salad with any of the following: pine nuts, garbanzo beans, green beans, red onion, steamed potatoes, corn, tomatoes. The only thing I think I would stay away from is cheese. I just don’t think the flavor of tahini pairs with cheese very well.
This dressing is for sure going to be a new standard in my house. It is so flavorful and was a huge hit at my dinner party so make it and see what you think. It will make your next salad better than good, I promise.