How to make restaurant-quality salads at home

Greek Salad made at The International Culinary Center

(CBS News) I love salads.

But let's get real, they can get very boring very fast. Kind of a problem time time of year: summertime, when all I should be eating is salads.

Luckily, I've picked up some great tricks that really help me make my salads look and taste more interesting. Try them out:

Video: How to make a better salad


  • Make homemade vinaigrette - it tastes better and is healthier for you (no fake ingredients)
  • Before you prep your veggies, crush some garlic and pop it in the vinegar or lemon juice you'll be using in your vinaigrette so it can infuse your dressing.
  • Do something different with your veggies: peel your tomatoes and your peppers (yes you can peel peppers), take the seeds out of your cucumbers, shave your carrots...different is interesting.
  • Cut your veggies all the same size and shape: triangles, strips, etc. You eat with your eyes first! Also, it will give an interesting texture to your salad.
  • Incorporate color - use heirloom tomatoes, different colors of bell peppers, or some white asparagus. All green is boring. Zzzz.
  • Add fresh herbs to your dressing and toss some into your lettuce. Making a Mediterranean salad? How about some fresh dill and mint? An Italian salad? Maybe some basil? Use dry if you don't have fresh.
  • Make herb oil for your dressing - blanch basil leaves briefly, drain, put them in a food processor, add a neutral oil (corn, canola), blend until well mixed, transfer to a bowl and let it hang out in your fridge for at least an hour. Drain, and use! Your oil will taste like basil. Yum.
  • If you use olive oil to make your dressing, don't whisk and whisk and whisk. Over-whisking olive oil can make it taste bitter. Yuck.
  • Dress and season your veggies separately - let veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers, marinate for a while. If everything is seasoned and dressed separately, everything will taste extra good together.
  • And finally, a tip courtesy of one of my girlfriends: add some hot sauce! I recommend Frank's Red Hot.

Yes, it may take a little longer, but the payoff is huge. I promise!

To learn some tips on how to spruce up a Greek salad, watch the video above.

Basic Greek Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Salad:

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 heads hearts of romaine
  • Red onion
  • Feta cheese, as desired
  • Kalamata olives
  • Herbs: dill, mint

Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (red wine, balsamic), or lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 /2 cup olive oil

For this recipe, I'm just giving you ingredients. No directions. Use the tips above to be creative: slice and dice as you please!

  • Alison Stravitz

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