Ina's 5 Simple Tips for Perfect Salads

How to take your produce to the next level.

Ina Garten with Green Salad with Ultimate French Vinaigrette

Everyone thinks they know how to make a simple salad, but it’s one of those easy dishes that can go terribly wrong. From soggy lettuce to flavorless croutons, one wrong move could ruin the whole thing. On the season premiere of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Ina visits her favorite farm stands to pick up the best the season has to offer and to share her tips for the perfect, Instagram-worthy salad.

1. Ingredient size matters.

“One of the things about making a mixed salad is ... if everything is cut exactly the same size it looks like a really refined salad every though the ingredients are very simple.” Ina’s Tuscan Tomato & Bread Salad, which merges a Caprese and a Panzanella salad into one, is best with all of the ingredients cut the same size. Ina cuts the mozzarella and bread for the croutons the same size as the tomatoes she adds to the salad.

2. Make sure the greens are dry.

“Dry lettuce is really important for having the vinaigrette stick to it,” says Ina. She uses a salad spinner.

3. Measure and mix dressing at the same time.

Ina always makes her salad dressings directly in a measuring cup. “You can measure and mix at the same time! So much easier,” says Ina.

4. Add the dressing while grains, pasta and croutons are still warm in the salad.

“The thing about having the croutons warm is that they really absorb the vinaigrette,” says Ina. She uses the same technique for her grain salads and her pasta salads. “The thing about pasta salad that I’ve learned over the years is most of them are so boring. They don’t really have any flavor. One of the key things about making pasta salad is that the pasta should still be warm.” Try this technique with her Farro Tabbouleh with Feta and Tomato Feta Pasta Salad.

5. Pour the vinaigrette on slowly.

“Pour enough vinaigrette on just to moisten everything,” says Ina. You can always add more later.

Get more Ina-approved tips and tricks on Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like A Pro Sundays at 11:30a|10:30c.

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