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dressing salads

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Old 11-13-2011, 09:59 AM   #1
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Default dressing salads

For cooks, this is very stupid question, but if I could solve this problem, being on the Beach would be 500 times more pleasant, and more practical.

I ate lunch at a restaurant yesterday and had "salad with fresh greens, sliced chicken and our own special dressing." If I could eat this every day, I would be very happy, and slender as a salad leaf. I've never seen/tasted a salad dressed so beautifully. When you looked at it, you saw no dressing, just a hint of moisture on the leaves (picked from their garden and absolutely scrumptious). However, each leaf was barely coated, as though it had been handpainted by tiny elves. The result was that you could actually taste the lettuce. (The dressing, which tasted of apple, was also wonderful, but I'll go for the technique for now.)

Are any of you good at dressing salads and, if so, can you educate me? I've watched cooking videos. I drizzle and toss. But I still get clumps of dressing.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:58 AM   #2
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Isn't it funny how you can very rarely recreate restaurant food/techniques. You could always look for tiny salad painting elves on Ebay... LOL. Sorry, I'm no help in this area. I usually pour a little on then toss with tongs then pour the rest on and toss again. But there are always some sections with not enough.
That Salad sounds awesome though.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:42 AM   #3
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You need to do a couple of things (I learned this by watching the salad people at Hale and Hearty). 1. You need to put the dressing in the bottom of your tossing bowl, with the greens and everything on top of it. 2. You need to toss in a much, much larger bowl than you would serve the salad in, so you have room to move everything around. 3. The smaller the leaf size, the easier it is to coat. At H&H they sometimes "chop" the salad a bit before tossing.

Hope this helps...I love perfectly tossed salads too.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:44 AM   #4
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Xan - alternatively, if you are bringing the salad to work: put everything in a huge tupperware (leave about half the space empty). Keep the dressing separate. When you get to work, put the dressing in the tupperware, put the lid back on, and shake vigorously all around up and down. The dressing will coat the leaves really well.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:53 AM   #5
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I've found that I'm liking my salads without any dressing at all, especially if I have beans or cheese in it. I know it's not for everyone, but it's my preferred way of enjoying it.
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:26 AM   #6
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Are you actually looking for a vinaigrette recipe? I've discovered that if I take any of my recipes and whisk in just a teaspoon of yellow mustard, it makes it coat the salad better.
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:13 AM   #7
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Cottage, dressing is one of the very few fattening things I don't love I never ate it as a child, so I agree, especially with beans, I can do without. This salad was so delicate though..... It made the salad just a tiny bit moist. And it's the only way I will eat olive oil

Mmckellen, thank you for that -- it sounds doable and I will try it. Chelby and MsKiki, thanks as well.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:54 AM   #8
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I found this from Cook's Illustrated, the folks who systematically test all variables in a recipe to determine the optimal ingredients and techniques:

Quote:
Basic vinaigrette has a fundamental problem: It doesn’t stay together. We sought a way to make oil and vinegar form a long-term bond. ... To come up with a well-balanced vinaigrette recipe that wouldn’t separate, we chose high-end oil and vinegar and whisked them together with a little mayonnaise, which acts as an emulsifier.
I have been adding a smidge of mayo ever since.

I don't have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated online for the original recipe, but here is the recipe posted elsewhere.

[ETA: Although, just for laughs, here is someone's response to that recipe.]

Have fun!

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Old 11-14-2011, 10:35 AM   #9
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Thanks for the tips!
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:53 PM   #10
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Thanks, Emma. The mayonnaise addtion sounds like the same principle as adding mustard, as Chelby mentioned above. It sounds like a good idea. I will say that I doubt it was used in my Weekend Special Salad, as the leaves were very barely wet. I wanted to storm the kitchen and ask how they did it, but things were so hectic that I didn't think it would be fair (the restaurant was obviously more crowded than they had expected that day).
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:17 PM   #11
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I was interested to see what all the responses would be!

I use the same vinegarette daily and make a big batch in my Vita Mix which emulsifies it. When I'm ready to make my salad I put all the veggies in first and toss the dressing with them first, then add the greens and toss again. It's always yummy and I don't have to use bunches of dressing.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:26 PM   #12
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That's a good idea, too! Thanks, Debbie.
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