Part of what makes restaurant salads exceptionally delicious is that they are always well-seasoned. Chefs make a point of seasoning the greens, not just the dressing, with a touch of salt and pepper. Fresh produce shines with a little salt and pepper mixed in.
2. Use a mix of greens for varied texture and flavour.
The mixture of greens in a restaurant salad elevates it as well. Keep texture and flavor in mind when you mix. Crystal lettuce and crispy gem lettuce have more of a crunch than butterhead or rocket leaves. And wasabi mustard and rocket leaves will add a peppery bite compared to mild butterhead or summer crisp lettuces.
3. Mix in fresh herbs.
Go beyond lettuce and include fresh herbs in your mix of greens. Salads are the perfect place to use up whatever herbs you have in your refrigerator, but you can also lean all the way in and use leafier herbs like Italian parsley as a green in their own right. Toss basil into a tomato-mozzarella salad, and mint with a feta-olive salad.
4. Think beyond the leafy greens.
The first ingredient that pops into your mind when you hear the word “salad” is some kind of leafy green. While we do love greens, they don’t need to be the star. Try a combination of other vegetables (mushrooms!), fresh and dried fruits, nuts, cooked grains, and bread.
5. Don’t fear the fat.
Restaurants aren’t afraid to add fat to the mix, and you shouldn’t be either. Remember that fat equals flavor. It helps make salads taste even better and makes them more satiating. A few easy ways to bring fat to your salad is with the dressing, or ingredients like avocado, toasted nuts, bacon, smoked salmon, or cheese.
6. Dress it before you plate it.
This simple trick allows dressing to evenly distribute and coat all the ingredients. Start adding a little at a time; you can always add more, but a salad can go from great to overdressed quickly, so take heed!