Ever wonder what makes a salad phenomenal? Sometimes people who do not do much cooking would ask me how restaurants and other food joints do their salads. My answer is simple. Firstly, everything is fresh. Two, start the dressing from scratch or at least do some tasting and mixing to achieve a taste which means absolutely no straight from the bottle dressings. Three, put in some kicks. Salads need that burst of flavor, that added texture and that little something that makes it different. Here’s the list of top 5 add-ons.
- nuts – pine nuts, peanuts, almonds, pili, walnut and a big etc. It can be whole, slivers or chopped. It can be fried, roasted or raw. caramelized pili nuts or panutsa even can also add a twist to your ho-hum salad. Unless you’re allergic to them, nuts lend a distinct flavor, smell and texture to the salad.
- cheeses – parmesan, cheddar, goat’s cheese, monster, gouda, blue cheese and I don’t really know much about cheeses so I’ll leave it all up to you. When you talk about explosive flavors, there has to be cheese there somewhere. May it be a slice, a stick or bits of grated cheese, it will do wonders. It can even be combinations of different kinds. It lends character If your glands can handle it, then why not?
- meats – we’ve all heard of bacon bits, roasted chicken, cold cuts and the key here is surprise. The weirder it is and the more it blends into the taste of the salad, the better. If your guests like it and cannot quite put it, that means it is working. Catch them off guard with bagnet, chicharon, tofu, adobo flakes, chicken skin, isaw, longganiza. Go on.
- seafood – a bit of bagoong or perhaps some seaweed or some shrimps, shells will always add a distinct taste to the salad, even taba ng talangka is crazy not to mention sinful addition to refreshing salads you can add to your menu.
- fruits and vegetables – What do you think of sun-dried tomato, dried raspberry, strawberries, turnip, pomelo? What about fruits like melon, watermelon, mango and pineapples? What about a flavorfest of olives, capers, jalapenos, leeks, green onions, celery, alfalfa, mongo sprouts and chilis?
With “some kicks” I mean a little bit of a certain taste. Chop it if it is too strong that it ends up overpowering the other flavors. Remember that you are after flavors that compliment each other and not ones that overpower each other. For instance, longganizang Lucban is quite salty so fry it and chop it to bits before mixing it with some romaine lettuce, chopped apple/onions/olives, maybe a bit of grated parmesan, and slivers of almond and the classic vinaigrette. If it ends up too rich still, add some croutons or add more greens. Remember never to pour dressings and always opt to only drizzle some. I will start with what to do with salad dressings but there are more posts to come.
Have fun. Forget recipes. Use your senses.