Making the perfect salad has less to do with the ingredients and more to do with preperation. Here are a few simple tips and ideas that will help you make the perfect salad every time.
The most important tip, when serving salad, is to make sure that the ingredients are fresh. The lettuce, celery and spinach should be crisp and green, not wilted or browned. The cucumbers as well should be green and firm. Red onions should not have any soft spots. Tomatoes and bell peppers should be firm with smooth skin. Avocados should be deep green in color, feel slightly soft to the touch but not mushy. All fresh produce should smell fresh and earthy.
The next task envolves cleaning the produce. If you don't already own one, buy a vegetable scrubber. This utensil should scrub the skin of a vegetable without removing the peel completely. A lot of vitamins can be found in the skin of vegetables and it also adds color to the salad. Use this scrubber to clean the cucumber then trim and discard the very ends. Leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach should be rinsed thoroughly and dried with clean paper towels. Remove the seeds and inner pulp of the bell pepper and wash inside and out. Celery should be trimmed at both ends and dried with paper towels. The canned beans should be emptied into a colander, rinsed with clear water and left to drain completely. Avocados need to be peeled completely and pitted before being eaten.
After cleaning, cut each vegetable into the same size pieces. Do not chop or mince anything. Cut each vegetable into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. This will ensure that no one flavor will be lost in the mix. Combine the lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, celery, red onions, bell pepper and canned beans and toss gently. Because the tomatoes and avacados are delicate and tend to get mushy when tossed, put them to the side until it is time to serve the salad. Do not add seasonings until after the dressing has been added because you risk over seasoning.
You can toss the completed salad with salad dressing and then very gentle mix in the avocado and tomato and serve. Or serve the salad pre-plated and offer a variety of dressings. Almost any dressing can be used on this salad such as ranch, Italian or Balsamic vinegar and oil. Offer fresh lemon wedges for those who wish to keep their salad really light and natural. Adding crisp noodles and using an Asian dressing is also good. Or add crunchy croutons and use a Caesar dressing. To make your salad a complete meal or main course just add chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna or cheese to add protein. Be sure to cut your meat or cheese the same size as the vegetables so every ingredient is tasted.
Serve your salad as a first course or main course. Add a cup of soup or some crusty bread to complete the meal and to complement your really fresh, incredible salad.