Your Kitchen Sink Salads Need These 3 Elements

May 30, 2017

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When I first opened my restaurant Porsena, I put a simple salad of blanched green beans, fennel, and fried almonds on the menu, inspired by the ingredients I'd raid the kitchen for when making a chopped salad. To this day, it's still one of my great “kitchen sink” salads: What goes into it or how I dress it depends what I find left over from service the night before in the salad station, or what I find in my fridge at home when I don’t feel like shopping or cooking much.

You want to combine some crisp blanched and/or raw vegetables with something briny and bright, like bottarga (salted, cured fish roe), or crunchy like tiny croutons or toasted nuts, and you want an aggressive, full-flavored dressing like this yogurt-based one.

The idea is to have a combination of fresh vegetables that are somewhat similar in flavor and texture. A good way to choose the group is to think about what’s in season at the moment. In the winter, it could be a fine julienne of raw root vegetables like carrots and fennel; in the spring, I like to pair green beans and asparagus or snap peas with some tiny new breakfast radishes; in the middle of summer, I might combine blanched little potatoes and raw zucchini.

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The bottarga adds a briny flavor that I love, but you can easily swap that out that with fried croutons or toasted pine nuts, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds, which will provide a crunchy texture.

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Top Comment:
“We are vegan but also try to use oils sparingly so in our go-to salad dressing we use dijon like Chef June and we add a whole organic orange with peel and pith plus apple cider vinegar with garlic and maple syrup if necessary. We buy large jars of capers and picholine olives that we add to the salad which go well with the dressing.”
— LouLou2222

On a good day at the restaurant, I can find any number of dressings from aioli to tahini in the salad station, but I'm happiest if we have a yogurt dressing—its bright tangy flavor marries so well with green vegetables and the salty fish flavor of bottarga.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

You can make this a meal by adding in some leftover protein, like a little poached or grilled chicken or leftover cooked fish. It’s a salad that should never the same because it's not so much about shopping for the perfect ingredients as it is working with what you have.

This isn’t a shy salad: It should be a combination of many elements—the seasonal vegetables, a powerful dressing, and a crunchy textural accent. For me it’s the perfect way to repurpose leftovers into something new and delicious, and a great way to avoid wasted food.

What's your go-to spring salad combination? Share it in the comments below!

This article originally ran on June 2, 2016.

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Barbara M. June 6, 2016
Best go-to dressing? 3 tbl Balsalmic + 2 tbl of your favorite Mustard + 1 tbl Maple Syrup. No oil. A snap to whip up. Tangy and delicious on anything.
Ky A. June 5, 2016
Oh, Lord, won't you buy me some estate-bottled extra-virgin olive oil and some grey mullet bottarga and some Persian cucumbers and...
Colleen D. June 5, 2016
Easy vegan dressing: hummus plus lemon juice (and optional: a drizzle or more of (lavender-flavored (or not)) balsamic vinegar). Add finely chopped mint and/or other herbs.
Sharon H. June 5, 2016
No fennel is not a root vegetable. Does it say somewhere that it is? It grows at ground level....
Scallionboy June 5, 2016
Fennel is a root vegetable?
Catherine L. June 5, 2016
I avoid these kind of fish products too, not only for them but for my health as well. The radiation flowing into the Pacific from Japan is so incredibly bad, most seafood in unfit for human consumption and is becoming sick and mutated and dying as well.
A. June 5, 2016
There's a US-based source for bottarga, a Florida company called Anna Maria Fish Co. The stuff is pretty spendy, but I'm going to give them a try!
Anne A. June 5, 2016
"estate-bottled" olive oil? Come on, really?
Jennifer H. June 5, 2016
My first thought too! Haha
Robert W. June 5, 2016
It's for real, and in principle it's a great thing. Olives, like grapes, reflect their terroir. The really great olive oils are precious.
Noelle M. June 5, 2016
I like a nut, cheese and a fruit mixed with greens. Or crouton instead of nut or avocado instead of cheese. Fruit can be anything from citrus to olive. Basically, crunch, creamy and bright/acidic
Kerri N. June 5, 2016
Come on, really? - "bottarga (salted, cured fish roe)?"
Who has this on hand?
Laura415 June 11, 2016
See my post above for Bottarga substitute.
LouLou2222 June 5, 2016
I love your salad idea. Thank you.
My husband and use our salads for any leftovers we have plus greens. We are vegan but also try to use oils sparingly so in our go-to salad dressing we use dijon like Chef June and we add a whole organic orange with peel and pith plus apple cider vinegar with garlic and maple syrup if necessary. We buy large jars of capers and picholine olives that we add to the salad which go well with the dressing.
Author Comment
Sara J. June 5, 2016
I love to use tahini dressing as well. Just buzz some tahini, garlic (if you like) and lemon juice in a food processor, then drizzle in water to thin it out to a dressing consistency. Goes well with everything!
tamater S. June 8, 2016
I'll be wanting to try this, because tahini freezes well, (at least for some uses) and I often have bits in my tiny sized mason jar. 125ml, I think.
ChefJune June 2, 2016
Salad dressings don't have to include dairy to be creamy. Whisking in some Dijon mustard creates a creamy texture that is completely vegan.
tamater S. June 8, 2016
Haha, I'll do Sara Jenkins tahini recipe with a GIANT gloop of Maille. If I can restrain myself from eating the whole jar with a spoon. ;-)