Deb’s Top 4 Salad Fails

Written by Deb Ng - August 1, 2010 3 Comments

I’m sure I’m not the only one who leans towards making and eating salads over the summer over cooking a heavy meal. I’m not sure how it is in your neck of the woods, but here on the East Coast, we’re having one of the hottest summers on record and the last thing anyone wants to do is to turn on appliances that make the house hotter. My family has been grilling and rocking the salads as a way to keep cool.

I have to admit though, I’m not much of a tossed salad girl.  I don’t like lettuces, especially those that turn my salad into something representing lawn clippings. However, I’ll also admit that there are other items that make or break a salad and that I can live with bitter, purple lettuces if the rest of the salad is filled with good stuff.

Here are my top 5 salad fails. Tell me how many you agree with:

1. Mayonnaise

My cousin used to eat salad manually. He would take each individual lettuce leaf and top it with a glob of mayonnaise and eat it that way. I used to get nauseated watching this because I wasn’t a fan of mayonnaise as a salad dressing to begin with, but to paint each individual leaf is overkill.  We’ll get to overdressed salads in a bit, but mayonnaise covers flavors, it doesn’t enhance them. It’s artery clogging unhealthiness. Creative salad makers know better than tossing mayonnaise into some pasta, a bunch of potatoes or some random veggies and calling it salad. Mayonnaise on a salad, any kind of salad, always tastes like too much mayonnaise. If you’re into creaminess on a salad, try some healthier options such as low fat yogurt dressings, certain cheeses and even salad dressings. If you must have a mayonnaise flavor, try diluting mayonnaise with fat free sour cream or yogurt.  Mayonnaise is for sandwiches and even then should be used sparingly.

2. Too Much Dressing

Too much dressing kills a salad. Why bother finding all those fresh vegetables, herbs and spices when you’re just going to muck it up anyway? Salad dressing is only supposed to add additional flavor, or, better yet, enhance the flavors.  If you like a lot of taste to your salad, experiment with herbs such as dill or basil and use onion, garlic, and mushrooms for some flavorful zing. There shouldn’t be a pool of salad dressing leftover at the bottom of your bowl when you’re done eating. In fact, you shouldn’t taste the dressing much at all. By all means, dress your salad, but don’t cover up all the good stuff making up your meal.

3. Limp Veggies

Brown, soggy lettuce. Mushy tomatoes. Peppers that are chewy instead of crunchy. Yeah you can call this a salad, but really it’s just a limp veggie mess. The best salads are made with the freshest ingredients, otherwise why bother?

4. No Imagination

Salads are more than lettuce and tomato. Use your imagination and add more exotic vegetables and even some fruit. Oranges, dried cherries, cranberries, apples and walnuts are terrific in lettuce based salads. Also, try being creative with more “meal-type” salads. A relative (who shall remain nameless) once invited us to dinner and fed us cold rigatoni with cooked frozen vegetables tossed in, her version of a pasta salad.  Just because you’re trying to make something quick or healthy, or you don’t want to use the oven doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be creative about it. Go nuts. Use avocado or artichokes. Try tossing in some bits of sharp cheese a little bite. Pick fresh herbs and use spices for flavor. Lettuce & tomato is fine, if that’s what you’re into – but that’s all it is, lettuce and tomato. Visit the farm market and the gourmet food section of your supermarket for inspiration.

What are your salad fails? Share them in the comments.

Read the Comments

3 Outstanding Responses to "Deb’s Top 4 Salad Fails"

    DianaHayes on August 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I disagree with the anti-mayo sentiments. I think you can use mayo as part of the dressing, and for some of my salads I do.

    We had a salad fail yesterday, kind of. I made a salad with bulghur, similar to tabouleh. When we put it in the table, it ended up next to my niece’s salad. She made real tabouleh. Discuss what you are bringing to avoid duplication. My niece said – Great minds.

    zerrin on August 2, 2010 at 4:14 am

    I agree with you on all these. An addition, I use yogurt instead of mayo as dressing, but with little amount.

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