Genius Recipes

This Genius Super-Salad Is All About Our Greatest Hits

April 30, 2018

Happier lunches, right this way. We've partnered with Just Salad to develop a Genius-inspired addition to their menu—available in 30 stores across the country, all through May. Read about how we created it below.

Food52 loves salad. You knew that already—we wrote a whole book on it. So it goes without saying that our Genius recipe column loves salad, too. (Just, ahem, as much as it loves desserts.) Over the years, Genius has taught us everything from turning a soft-boiled egg into the creamiest dressing to charring pineapple into blissful oblivion.

Our favorite part about these tricks is mixing and matching—pulling an idea from here, another from there, another from there, then combining in a big bowl and tossing together. Which is exactly what our friends at Just Salad prompted us to do: Can you turn your favorite Genius salads into one super-Genius salad? Challenge accepted, guys. Challenge accepted.

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Here’s how we did it: Genius’ fearless leader Kristen and I sorted through some of our all-time favorites (of these, there are a lot) and started brainstorming our dream salad (hard work, we know). There was a lot of “Yum!” and “Yay!” and serious questions, from “Does it stay crispy?” to “Is cilantro less popular than parsley?” But it was all worth it to find our winner...

Hello, beautiful! Photo by Ty Mecham
  • We nabbed the red cabbage, beets, and pickled red onions from Fergus Henderson's Red Salad. There, the beets are julienned into matchsticks. But Just Salad had another idea: raw, crouton-like like cubes. What the what? Totally Genius. (And I now keep a prepped container of these in my crisper drawer at all times.)
  • To bring even more red to the table—really, you can never have enough—we opted for red wine vinegar. This teams up with our great love, olive oil, to make the dressing.
  • Maricel Presilla reminded us that some creaminess was in order and that avocado makes everything better. We dutifully followed suit.
  • Likewise, Samantha Clark and Samuel Clark introduced us to the brilliant team that is chickpeas and cilantro. They create a warm, tahini-y, pumpkin-y situation.
  • Which got us thinking about pumpkin. But we also wanted something crunchy, sort of in the spirit of Jessica Koslow’s kale salad with crispy brown rice "kabbouleh.” We tried the semi-homemade equivalent—think rice puff cereal—but it wasn’t as crunchy as we wanted. And that’s when it hit us: pumpkin seeds!
  • This perfectly fit into Northern Spy’s endlessly riffable kale salad template: starchy, cheesy, nutty/seedy. They opt for squash, cheddar, and almonds. Us: chickpeas, feta, and pumpkin seeds.

Ta-da! Just Salad calls it The Food52 Genius Salad (we’re flattered!). It’s available all of May—in 30 stores across the country. One of which just happens to be right near our office. Hehe. We’re all ready for the least sad desk lunches ever. Are you?

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From our new podcast network, The Genius Recipe Tapes is lifelong Genius hunter Kristen Miglore’s 10-year-strong column in audio form, featuring all the uncut gems from the weekly column and video series. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss out.

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    Emma Laperruque
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Amy K. May 6, 2018
Thank you!! I love salads that use greens/veggies!/slaws that hold up and taste fresh over a period of days. My family loves them too but it’s first come first serve! Yum. Thanks for the flavor templates and fresh ideas. I hope to never miss this weekly post!
Kay April 30, 2018
With an unidentified e-coli outbreak affecting approximately half of the United States, why would you encourage salads at this time? The CDC has urged people to avoid what is believed to be romaine lettuce from the Yuma Arizona area, but this has not been definitively pinpointed. There are so many other foods to highlight, please educate your readers and keep them healthy!
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Emma L. April 30, 2018
Hi Kay, thanks for your note! We always want to make sure our community is aware of relevant food news and try to share food recalls accordingly. Luckily, as you mentioned, this recent recall concerns romaine lettuce, which isn't included in this salad. Just Salad shares your concern, though, and has let customers know that their romaine comes from California. They also have multiple other types of greens for anyone who still might be nervous about it.
BerryBaby April 30, 2018
Everyday I have a salad for lunch. I mix it up using different lettuce greens. Not a kale fan at all. I lean toward red leaf, green leaf and romaine (from California or local). What’s ever in the fridge goes into my salads. Couldn’t live without my daily toss!