How to Make Salad & Homemade Salad Dressing (Recipes Kids Should Know Before Leaving Home)
Today we are going to talk about how to make a Green Salad. Salad is one of the things my mom first taught me in the kitchen and I think about her every time I make a fresh garden salad! But before we get to today’s topic– and a really awesome recipe for homemade salad dressing– I want to introduce you to my daughter Anna!
Up until now, all of the Recipes Kids Should Know Before Leaving Home cooking posts thus have been executed with my 11-year-old daughter, Cate. We have had so much fun working on this series for Alpha Mom together and building Cate’s cooking repertoire! Cate has a little sister, Anna, who is 8 years old. Even though Anna is younger, she has been showing a lot of interest in cooking lately, even making meals for her brother and sister fairly regularly. When I told her my plan for the next post in the series was going to be about making salad and salad dressing, she got really excited. I asked if she’d like to join along on our cooking journey and she enthusiastically said yes! So, Anna and I are going to share our salad adventure with you today!
HOW TO MAKE A SALAD
Knowing how to make a salad is a great skill to have and one you will use all the time. Keep in mind that making a salad requires using a knife. Be sure to work with your parents to make sure you are using a knife correctly and safely. My friend Michelle wrote a great blog post about kids and knives in the kitchen, so be sure to check that out! Two things to always keep in mind: first, the tip of your knife should remain on the cutting board at all times. Second, the hand that is holding the food you are cutting should always have the fingers curved and tucked under, so that your thumb and fingertips are not exposed to the knife blade.
Here are the basics for putting together a super yummy salad:
- A garden salad always has lettuce of some kind! There are all kinds of lettuce to choose from. If you want super crunchy, less flavorful lettuce go with Iceberg. (Click here for a cool trick to get the hard core out of a head of iceberg lettuce.) If you want darker, less-crispy greens with more flavor, try spinach and mixed greens. Romaine lettuce is a good in-between choice, with a mix of crisp and leafy leaves.
- Once you’ve selected your lettuce type, wash the leaves well and dry them off with a towel or use a salad spinner.
- If the lettuce pieces are large, like with Romaine, you can either tear the lettuce into more bite-sized pieces by hand or chop the lettuce with a knife. We like to chop lettuce in our family because it is faster and you can get nice, even-sized pieces.
- Some people think a salad of just lettuce isn’t really a salad – you need to mix it up with some other veggies. Pick your favorites or simply use whatever you happen to have in your kitchen. (That’s another great thing about salads, the ingredients are very flexible.)
- Some good veggies to add to salad: carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, raw mushrooms, green onions, tomatoes. Use whatever sounds good to you and your family.
- Salad doesn’t have to be just about the veggies! Get creative with other mix-ins, like cheese (shredded or crumbled cheese is great for garden salad), nuts (candied nuts are especially yummy), croutons, seeds, dried fruit and more.
Now that you have a big bowl of salad it’s time for some salad dressing. A few things to keep in mind:
- Dressing should be added right before serving, otherwise your salad can get soggy.
- You can either “toss” the entire salad at once in the bowl (which means putting all the salad dressing on at once), or serve the salad “dry” on plates and then let people put dressing on themselves. Either way works great!
- Feel free to use store-bought dressing, but…
- Homemade salad dressing, it’s actually super easy to make! A basic vinaigrette is made up of just two ingredients: oil and vinegar. This article at Epicurious gives a good overview of homemade salad dressing and what kinds of things you can add to that basic vinaigrette to spice things up. We are going to share a great basic homemade dressing recipe below. Isabel Kallman, founder of Alpha Mom, shared this family favorite with us and now it’s one of our family’s favorites, too.
Homemade Dijon Vinaigrette
Adapted from Absolutely Deliciously by Linda Allard
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt (if you use table salt, use a little less than 1/8 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press or very finely minced (if you want it less garlicky flavored, use less garlic or slice the garlic clove, add those to the dressing then remove before adding the greens)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind works, white wine vinegar or balsamic are extra tasty!)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper (or plain black pepper works, too!)
1. In the large salad bowl that you plan to serve your salad in, sprinkle the salt. Add the mustard. Set aside the teaspoon you used for the mustard for later (no need to clean it off!). Add the garlic and mash the three ingredients together with a fork or a whisk.
2. Using the mustard teaspoon, measure and add the vinegar. Add the extra virgin olive oil, then mix well with a fork or a whisk. If the vinaigrette sits for a little bit, whisk it up again before adding the greens.
3. Right before serving, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, add your greens and veggies, and toss the salad to coat well.
4. Note: If you want to make the dressing separate from the salad, mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.