Let’s dig right into our question this week, which is once again totally timely as we start to lighten up our meals with a nod to spring. (Is it too early to be super psyched for summer? No?! Okay, good- cause I’m totally impatient for shorts and sunshine.)
Q. I keep noticing on restaurant menus that their salads include fresh herbs. How can I use fresh herbs in my salads at home and how do I know what tastes good together?
A. Ooooh…what a great question! I love how you sleuth out new cooking ideas on restaurant menus. That’s a totally Lauren thing to do. (And I may or may not sneak iPhone pics of my favorites.)
On to your question- let’s talk about incorporating fresh herbs into salads. Fresh herbs add interest and finesse to any salad and are so much more than a garnish. I’m not the most willing salad eater, but don’t need any coercion to dig in for seconds or thirds when the salad is laced with fresh herbs.
Parsley: Curly or flat, you can never go wrong with parsley. If you’re using curly, I prefer it chopped quite finely so it doesn’t scratch as you chew. If you’re opting for flat leaf parsley, you can either chop it fine or just de-stem it and put the leaves in whole.
BEST SUITED FOR: Any type of green salad. Also great in egg salad and quinoa salad
- Salads with garlic, lemon and olive oil dressing are out-of-this-world with a generous helping of parsley.
- Parsley pairs well with fish, so a salad topped with salmon or tuna is great with parsley.
- For a double helping of herbs, pair it with basil or mint.
Mint: Mint infuses any salad with life. It adds instant freshness and cooling.
BEST SUITED FOR: Great in bean salad, fruit salad and almost all green salads.
- Great with a yogurt based dressing.
- Plays well with ginger, honey and lemon- another salad dressing option.
- Mint also pairs well with feta cheese, cucumbers, pears, tomatoes and carrots.
Basil: I love to stack my basil leaves on top of each other, roll them into a cylinder, and then cut them across, creating beautiful thin ribbons of basil.
BEST SUITED FOR: Spinach salad, egg salad, and quinoa salad.
- Wonderful with a spinach salad topped with chicken or egg
- Outstanding with a garlic-based and olive oil based dressing
- Great with both goat cheese and feta cheese
- Pair it with tomato and/or thin slices of zucchini
Cilantro: Cilantro has a very loud, specific flavor. You either love it or you don’t!
BEST SUITED FOR: Asian-inspired salads.
- Great with lemon, lime or yogurt based salad dressings
- Add ginger or garlic to your dressing too
- Salad additions include avocados, tomatoes and white fish
- Try it with dill and mint for a fresh and exciting combination
Do you have a question for me? I’d love to hear! E-mail me at email@example.com.