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Salads might be the ultimate in not-recipe foods—ideally, the happy result of a dig through the crisper drawer, chopping up whatever's still actually crisp, tossing it together. Ideally, it's playful, maybe the most playful space for food. But getting to a place where the salad feels lush and not like a pile of simultaneously competing and disinterested green things can also feel like a hurdle, and it's a hurdle where I sometimes get stuck, forgetting that I can play—with textures, with spiky dressings, with layers of seedy add-ins, with an ingredient list that begins, first and foremost, with croutons.
You, though, are holding it down with spunky salads over on our (Not)Recipes app. Here are 8 smart tips—and a couple of tools that help the salad-making process along—inspiring my salads to greatness:
1. Use the same ingredient in a bunch of different ways. Here, a salad of raw sugar snap peas plus blanched green peas and pea shoots makes for a very green, many-textured salad.
2. Use salad greens as a topping for tarts (or pizza). A slick of ricotta beneath never hurt anybody, either.
3. Yogurt mixed with herbs is the easiest creamy salad dressing. (And herbs as salad greens are always a good idea.)
4. Look to other vinegars—like kimchi or pickle brine!—when making salad dressings (and marinades for shrimp or tofu).
5. Kimchi brine dressing strikes again! Boiled eggs and chopped kimchi play the supporting roles.
6. The simplest grilled vegetable salad gets punch and personality from a drizzle of salsa verde (a.k.a. whatever herbs you've got on hand plus oil plus capers and lemon and a little mustard).
7. Sauté your greens, why don't you! Even—especially—romaine.
8. Croutons are the Robin to any salad's Batman. (Or is it the other way around? Discuss.) These ones are tossed with an herbes de Provence-infused olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan.
What are your best tips and tools for spunkier salads? Share them in the comments (and over on the app!)