Chef Wendy

How to Make a Perfect Green Salad

A cool, crisp, fresh green salad is always appreciated by health-conscious friends and family, and you can serve this simple side dish with any main course, or as a starter. 

A light and lovely green salad is quick and easy to make, provided you follow a few basic guidelines.  Here are our top tips for making a delicious green salad at home:

1. The most important tip we can give you is to choose the best, freshest ingredients for your salad. When you’re shopping for ingredients, take extra time to choose leaves and vegetables that are young, crisp and free of any blemishes or bruising.     

2. You can use any sort of green leaf in your salad. For a simple salad, stick to one type of salad leaf,  such as iceberg or butter lettuce. For a more complex salad, use a variety of interesting salad greens, such as cos lettuce, rocket, baby spinach, watercress, and so on.

3. Most supermarket salad leaves sold in plastic ‘pillow packs’ have already been washed and dried, so there is no need to rinse them again. However, if you have bought your salad greens loose, you may need to rinse them before you use them, to remove any dust or insects. Tip the leaves into a sieve or colander and rinse them well under cold running water. Now dry them out with a salad spinner – see point 4, below.

4. If you don’t have a salad spinner, put the leaves on a clean kitchen cloth and gather up the corners, holding them together in one hand.  Step outside and swing the ‘parcel’ round and round, using a ‘windmill’ circular action with your arm. Centrifugal force will drive the moisture out through the cloth.  Alternatively, you can gently pat the leaves dry with kitchen paper. 

5. Tip all the leaves into a big salad bowl. Tear any big leaves – such as iceberg or cos lettuce leaves – into smaller bite-sized pieces, each about the size of a matchbox.

6. Now top your salad with some interesting green ingredients that you’ve cut up into slices or cubes. Here are some suggestions: cucumber, green pepper, finely sliced baby marrows, spring onions, avocado, raw baby asparagus, bean sprouts, fresh peas and so on. 

7. A handful of chopped fresh herbs will add beautiful flavour to your salad. We can recommend chives, parsley and basil as great additions to salad. 

8. Don’t prepare your salad too far in advance, especially in hot weather, or the ingredients may wilt in the heat. Make it no more than two hours in advance, place it in the fridge (or in a cool place in your house) and cover tightly with clingfilm. 

9. Most important: don’t add a dressing until immediately before you serve the salad, because the oils and acids in the dressing will make the leaves soft and soggy (see point 11, below). 

10. Think about adding one or more crisp, crunchy or creamy toppings to your salad to add interest and variety! Here are some suggestions: cubed feta cheese, crumbed chicken nuggets or strips, fine ‘shavings’ of Parmesan cheese (use a vegetable peeler to create paper-thin slices), crunchy croutons, fried halloumi cheese, crumbled crisp-fried bacon, biltong slices, toasted sesame or pumpkin seeds, roasted pecan or macadamia nuts, and so on.  Get these ready in a separate bowl and keep them to one side until you’re ready to serve your salad. 

11. When you’re ready to bring your salad to the table, drizzle it with a KNORR salad dressing of your choice. Use a pair of large spoons gently to toss the salad so all the ingredients are combined. Don’t use too much dressing – add just enough so that each ingredient is lightly coated. Sprinkle over the toppings you’ve put to one side, and serve immediately.