When it comes to building a salad, the rules are few and the potential plenty. But there’s one thing that will make or break your study in green: the dressing.
Here’s our handy guide to dressing greens:
Pairs well with: lemon vinaigrette
Kale can put your jaw through the ringer. When it comes to dressing, say yes to acid – lots of lemon juice or citrus will do. The acid helps break down the cellular structure of the leaves, making them easier to eat and digest.
INKA’s pick: Miranda Kerr’s Salad Dressing
Pairs well with: a splash of balsamic vinegar
Uber acidic or creamy dressings are a no-go. So much as look at spinach the wrong way and it will wilt on you. It’s best to keep things light, especially if you’re handling baby spinach. Bacon is a popular choice here, but we like sautéed shiitake mushrooms.
INKA’s pick: The Kitchn's Balsamic Vinaigrette
Pairs well with: ranch, hot sauce, or anything with lots of flavor
Iceberg is all crunch and no flavor. Complement its crunch with a dressing that speaks for itself. Embrace creams and heavier cheeses. You’ll often see iceberg paired with something of the blue cheese variety, but if that’s not your jam, ranch would work just as well.
INKA's pick: Naturally Ella's Avocado Dressing
Romaine or Little Gem
Pairs well with: caesar or literally anything
Romaine is your hall pass green – it can’t take just about anything. Same goes for its more tender cousin, Little Gem. Both are crunchy with slightly more flavor than iceberg. Sure, caesar is expected. But what do you say we sub for miso tahini dressing? Thought so.
INKA’s pick: Minimalist Baker's Quick Ginger Garlic Miso Dressing
Pairs well with: Olive oil with a splash of balsamic
Sweet and tender, these greens merit something basic, like a balsamic vinaigrette. Permission to whip out the pepper grinder, but stay away from anything too heavy that will sog up your plate.
INKA’s pick: BA's New Standard Vinaigrette
Pairs well with: light honey mustard
Arugula is bitter, so lean into sweet flavors with honey or date syrup. Stay away from heavy creams that will drown your delicate greens.
INKA’s pick: BA's Creamy Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette
Pairs well with: warm brown butter dressing
Not for the faint of heart, endive is a hefty green with an upfront bitterness. When it comes to dressing, push the limits of sweetness and fat. Dairy and grainy mustard are friends here.
INKA’s pick: Acid League's Brown Butter Garden Heat Vinaigrette
Pairs well with: Mayonnaise or anything egg-yolk based
Let the bitterness keep on coming. Do your frisse a favor and douse it in a fatty, salty dressing. Don’t worry, the frilly greens can take it. A little poached egg wouldn’t go astray either.
INKA’s pick: Goop's Salad Lyonnaise Recipe
Pairs well with: Light dijon dressing
If you don’t have a handy bottle of dijon tucked in your fridge, your salads are suffering. Radicchio has all the bitterness of endive, but is more tender. It can (and should) take a Dijon or egg yolk-based dressing, but it's best to stay wary of creams.
INKA’s pick: NYT's Mustard Vinaigrette
Be the talk of the summer dinner party circuit with salads that take center stage.