Fans of fast casual salad restaurants like Just Salad, Chopt, and Sweetgreen know the beauty of a custom salad. But when it comes to recreating that magic at home, the results can fall a bit limp. Take heart, enthusiasts, because James Beard Award winning chef Nancy Silverton is sharing five ways to ensure your bowl is as beautiful as the one you order.
Silverton cofounded Los Angeles’ Osteria Mozza with Mario Batali, which features her popular Nancy’s Chopped Salad, full of Farmer’s Market fresh produce including Sweet 100 tomatoes, red onions, pepperoncini, organic sausage, and provolone. The chef has teamed up with Sweetgreen for a version of her famed chopped salad, now available at the restaurant’s 86 locations across the country until May of 2018.
There are a few tweaks to the original recipe. Instead of her salad’s classic iceberg and radicchio base, Sweetgreen’s rendition has romaine and kale. She kept the chickpeas, red onions, and cherry tomatoes (for a burst of flavor in every bite), and the salad’s salami (for the first time ever, Sweetgreen is carrying organic, domestically sourced salami just for this salad). Sweetgreen added cucumber for the crunchiness, pickled celery instead of pepperoncini, and Parmesan instead of provolone, but it’s all still tossed in her famous oregano vinaigrette.
If there’s not a Sweetgreen location near you, or you’re looking to upgrade your salad game at home, Silverton shared her tips for salad success.
1. GO TO YOUR LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET.
This might seem a little obvious, but it’s easy to forget. “There’s just a salad waiting for you at the farmers’ market,” Silverton told us. She’s a big believer in fresh and local produce. It’s kind of her brand.
2.Master THE ART OF CHOPPING.
“For a chopped salad where you’re chopping everything, I think that the size and the shape of components needs to complement each other,” Silverton shared. Prep your ingredients in such a way that they can easily be scooped up with every bite, instead of getting a mouthful of just lettuce or having everything fall off your fork.
3. SEASON YOUR LETTUCE.
Silverton salts her lettuce before she put any toppings in. “Always before I dress the salad, I season it with Kosher salt and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice,” she explained. This brightens the lettuce and works best when you’re making an acidic salad.
4. DON’T FORGET THE FRESH HERBS.
Emphasize the fresh. Silverton let us in on what herbs she’s using right now in her salads. “I’m finding that in just a really simple green salad, tearing up some mint [or] throwing in some dill sprigs really transforms the salad,” she said.
5. dress to impress.
Silverton encourages you to make your own dressing. Not only is it better for you, because there’s no preservatives or processed oils, but it’s also super easy to make. “For the most basic one, a lemon vinaigrette, mix some shallots, fresh ground pepper, salt, lemon juice, a little bit of champagne vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. It takes less than five minutes, and can go with pretty much everything,” Silverton told us.
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(Photos via Sweetgreen)