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.
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...
- 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?
The Genius Super-Salad
- 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups chopped, stemmed curly kale
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup peeled, cubed (about 1/2-inch) red beets (raw!)
- 3/4 cup cooked or canned, rinsed chickpeas
- 1/4 cup pickled red onions
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for dressing
- Red wine vinegar, for dressing
- Kosher salt
- 1 avocado, peeled and cubed