Too Many Cooks: Your Perfect Salad

July 18, 2014

You'll be hearing from the staff at FOOD52 in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

Caesar-Style Kale Salad on Food52

Salads are so much more than piles of lettuce. They can be light and delicate, cheesy and crunchy, or more potato than anything else. They can be sweet or savory, heavy or light, hot or cold. 

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While salads are a great way to showcase the freshest seasonal produce -- or to use up the random leftovers in your fridge -- all of the possibilities can sometimes be overwhelming.

To find out why some salads rise above the rest, we asked the Food52 staff:

What is your ideal salad?

Do you prefer a grain salad, corn salad, or a salad packed with herbs and tomatoes? Tell us in the comments below!

Chard Salad with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Parmesan

Christina: My mother's tabbouleh -- her version has the perfect parsley to bulgur ratio, just enough lemon to keep the salad dressed but not soggy, and crisp summer cucumbers to add a nice bite.

More: Kale tabbouleh is a greener twist on the original grain salad.  

Bryce: I love a salad of baby spinach, chickpeas, grilled chicken, avocado, artichoke hearts, oil, and salt.

Radicchio Salad on Food52

Lauren K.: I could name about 500 salads I love, but the one I miss the most is a radicchio salad with a pear-brown butter vinaigrette, candied pecans, and brie. It was from Lovely Hula Hands, a restaurant in Portland that closed many years ago.

More: Try a simple yet ingenious Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette.

Gabriella P.: The Spicy Sabzi at Sweetgreen is the perfect salad, but if I'm going to make my own salad, I'll usually go for an old-fashioned fridge clean-out salad. I like the suspense of it all.

Charred Corn and Avocado Salad on Food52

Catherine O’Donnell: My favorite salad is as simple as it gets: tomato, avocado, cilantro, lime, and done. It's just so good.

More: Add some corn to your tomato and avocado salad.

Nancy: Just a simple salad of endives, avocados, and mangoes with yuzu dressing. If you haven’t tried yuzu, you must -- it’s delicious!

Lauren L.: My favorite salad is a mix of baby lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, dill, blue cheese, and buttermilk dressing, which is actually the Farmhouse Salad from here.

Caprese Salad

Hillary: Peach tomato caprese is the best, but only with really good fruit and buffalo mozzarella.

Merrill: My favorite is a tomato salad with New Jersey beefsteaks, lots of olive oil and salt, a splash of red wine vinegar, and some freshly torn basil. It's imperative that the tomatoes hang out in the dressing for at least an hour before serving (and that the basil be added at the last minute).

Posie: Everyone should drop everything and go get the scrambled egg, pancetta, and radicchio salad at Salumeria Rosi on the Upper West Side. It's the perfect mix of salty and sweet, of warm and cold. I am in love.

Gazpacho Panzanella on Food52

Erin: Does it count if it's bread-based? Panzanella is definitely my favorite, with tons of tomatoes, lots of cucumbers in huge chunks, and entirely too much vinegar!

Stephanie: Oh, I'm so behind panzanella. Erin, we can be on a team.

More: Learn how to make panzanella, no recipe required.

Grilled Caesar Salad on Food52

More: Bring your Caesar into the summer by grilling it.

A heated debate over Caesar and Greek Salad erupted. Here was the final breakdown:

We tallied up 9 Caesar Salad lovers and 4 Greek Salad fans from the Food52 team. Which side are you on? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • epicharis
  • FoodieDawn
  • walkie74
  • ChefJune
  • Susan W
    Susan W
I put chocolate chips in 95% of the things I make and am a strong proponent for lunch dessert.


epicharis July 20, 2014
My favorite salad of all time comes from the inimitable Johnny Monis of Komi: peaches, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, feta, corn, sourdough bread crumbs, olive oil. It's the reason summer exists.
FoodieDawn July 20, 2014
Don't make me choose! But I eat more Greek than Caesar salads if I had to choose. But a green salad with grilled chicken, bacon, blue cheese and avocado will always steal my heart.
walkie74 July 20, 2014
I made a Caesar salad for my husband last year for the first time. Then he discovered that he has an addiction to anchovies. So yeah...we give unto Caesar what is Caesar's. :-p
ChefJune July 20, 2014
In the matter of Caesar Salad versus Greek -- they're so different I can't imagine choosing. As long as you don't serve me Caesar Salad with a bottled dressing!
ChefJune July 20, 2014
We had salad for dinner tonight. I love salads made of all sorts of ingredients. One of my current faves is Rivka's salad of chick peas, sweet potatoes and zucchini! But my all time favorite salad has to be Lyonnaise salad with its frisée, bacon and poached egg -
Susan W. July 19, 2014
I am obsessed with main dish salads right now. That is unusual for me. Chopped salads, Laab (aka Larb), the wonderful fusion salad from this site, classic Caesar topped with roasted shrimp and my new favorite..Bibimbap as a salad instead of over rice.
gmg2011 July 18, 2014
Ha! Awaiting the return of my husband with pizza and…a farmhouse salad from Polpettina right this minute. It is so good!