On its own, each ingredient in a salad is fairly unremarkable. Lettuce, cut-up vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, maybe some cheese or protein. What brings it all together, though, is the salad dressing, so the dressing deserves some extra care and attention. Here's a tip on how to make sure your dressing is perfectly balanced and seasoned properly for your salad.
Tasting is a key part of cooking — your palate gets familiar with ingredients and how flavors change as they cook so you know how things should taste. Even when making salad dressing, you should make sure you taste it before you dress your salad since it's a lot harder to adjust once you've mixed everything together.
But what to taste with? Ordinarily you would reach for a spoon, but there's a better instrument that you already have: a piece of lettuce or another ingredient from your salad.
Salad dressing is the primary seasoning in a salad, so it should be strong and pungent, because the rest of the ingredients are usually bland or boring on their own. If you taste a dressing on its own, you'd probably find it too salty or vinegary. But if you taste it the way it's meant to be eaten, like on mild or crunchy lettuce, you'll know what the end result of the salad will taste like before you toss everything together.
So grab that leaf of lettuce, dip it into your dressing, and munch away. Adjust your dressing as needed — if it needs more salt, pepper, and maybe a splash of vinegar — then try it again with more lettuce. Once you get the dressing where you like it, toss away and enjoy a seasoned dressing that matches perfectly with everything you're tossing it with.
(Image credits: Christine Gallary)