Credit: Joe Lingman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

How We Salad: 7 Very Good Ideas for Your Summer 2020 Salad Agenda

updated Jul 16, 2020
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As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the only thing I want to eat are fresh, summery salads. Crisp greens tossed in tart dressing is the summertime salve I crave — a refreshing relief from the heat. But salads can quickly get boring, and eating the same few over and over again gets tiresome. It’s high time for a change.

This summer, we’re switching up our salad routine. We’re replacing bland, lifeless salads with bold new recipes and game-changing techniques. We’re turning the classic vinaigrette ratio on its head, looking to our pantries for inspiration, and, heck, we’re even broiling our salads. We’re breaking all the rules in the name of flavor, and we want you to join us. These are the seven ways we “salad” this summer.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

We’re using lettuce for flavor, not just crunch.

One of the easiest ways we’re adding flavor and excitement to our salads is by ditching one-note greens and bagged salad mixes for bolder DIY blends. Why? Homemade salad blends made with bitter greens and herbs add flavor, not just crunch. Our updated take on the classic spring mix (the most ubiquitous of the pre-made salad blends), uses a combination of Belgian endives, radicchio, parsley, basil, spinach, and arugula, and we’ll be turning to it all summer long.

Recipe: Homemade Spring Mix

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

We’re doubling the vinegar for a punchier vinaigrette.

Salads need a big, bold vinaigrette in order to shine — but the traditional vinaigrette ratio (with three parts oil to one part vinegar) is dull and muted. The solve? Ditch the 3:1 ratio for a 1:1 ratio with equal parts oil and vinegar. The increase in acid makes the vinaigrette brighter, more flavorful, and infinitely better. This summer we’re using this formula to make off-the-cuff dressings with ingredients we have on hand.

Recipe: The New All-Purpose Vinaigrette

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

We’re broiling our salad. (Yes, really!)

This summer we’re forgetting everything we’ve been told about keeping our salads cold. Instead, we’re throwing them under the broiler. Why? Because not only can salads withstand a little bit of heat, but they can actually get better because of it. Yes, this means throw them on the grill — but it means turning up the dial on your broiler, too.

Lightly broiling greens gives them a deep, smoky flavor, and the lettuce wilts in the most delicious way. To prove this, we broiled a classic wedge salad. The outside leaves of the iceberg softened while the interior stayed crunchy, creating an irresistible contrast in textures.

Recipe: Broiled Wedge Salad

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

We’re trading in croutons for breadcrumbs.

Move over, croutons: Breadcrumbs are how we’re adding crunch to our salads. Unlike heavy crouton boulders, breadcrumbs cling onto every leaf so you get the perfect amount of crunch in every bite (and they don’t fall to the bottom of the bowl). It’s like breading for your salad greens!

Our new and improved Caesar salad recipe demonstrates just that by ditching the croutons for savory garlic butter breadcrumbs. It’s the Caesar you know and love, only crunchy through and through.

Recipe: Caesar Salad with Garlic Butter Breadcrumbs

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

We’re mining salad treasure from the pantry.

When we think about salads, we often picture a bounty of fresh vegetables that go from fridge to plate. But this summer, we’re approaching things a little differently. Sure, we’re still making salads with peak-season produce, but we’re also turning to our pantries more. We’ve learned that you don’t even need lettuce: Pantry treasures like canned veggies, chickpeas, and roasted red peppers can make refreshing salads, even when your crisper drawer is empty.

Recipe: Four-Can Pantry Salad

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

We’re giving solo vegetables the respect they deserve.

We’re leaning into low-effort, high-reward salads that focus on just one main ingredient. With proper seasoning and technique, you can transform any fruit or vegetable into an exciting, flavorful salad. Imagine slices of peak-summer tomatoes tossed in a punchy vinaigrette. Or juicy cucumbers that are lightly smashed and showered in cracked black pepper. These salads prove a really great salad doesn’t have to be complicated.

Recipe: Salt and Pepper Smashed Cucumber Salad

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

We’re making salads that actually last all week long.

This summer, we’re getting a head start on our salads and prepping them in advance. We’re making big batches on Sunday, tossing them in dressing, and packaging them up for the week ahead. This might sound like a recipe for soggy salads, but don’t fret! By using the right ingredients, you can make a salad that stays crisp and fresh for multiple days. Delicate lettuces like bibb and spinach will quickly wilt after being dressed, but hardier greens like cabbage and kale stay crisp and fresh for multiple days. 

Recipe: Crunchy Cabbage Slaw with Farro, Pecorino, and Dates

Now it’s your turn to tell us: How are you leveling up salads this summer? Let us know in the comments below.