Here’s some tricks to help you jazz-up your summer salads:

  1. Save leftover grilled or steamed sweet corn. Cut off cob; add to any salad, including Caesar salad for an interesting twist
  2. Add avocado to any vinaigrette — or any bottled dressing. Just puree in blender, taste for salt and pepper and any salad is improved
  3. Add peppered almonds to virtually any salad:
  4. Recipe: Peppered Almonds

    • Preheat oven 325 degrees
    • Separate one egg. Reserve yolk. Whip white with fork until foam develops. Pour off ½ egg whites and save for other use
    • Toss 1-4 ounces sliced almonds in remaining egg white
    • Generously sprinkle cracked black pepper and bit of salt over coated almonds
    • Spread on flat baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Or use a sil pat
    • Toast in oven 5-10 minutes just until edges of some almonds turn brown. Watch carefully. Almonds burn quickly
    • Remove from oven. Let cool. Break into individual almonds.
    • Take all the credit for a great salad

  5. Before adding fresh mushrooms to a salad, rub off any dirt and marinate 15-20 minutes in a touch of vinegar (rice wine vinegar works well), salt and pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of any fresh herb, especially cilantro. Drain and toss in salad
  6. Add sugar and spice walnuts or pecans to salad:
  7. Recipe: Spicy Sugared Walnuts or Pecans

    • Preheat oven 325 degrees
    • Toss about 4 oz. nuts with 1 T sugar (brown sugar is nice, but not mandatory), salt, and generous dash of cayenne pepper. Spread on flat baking sheet
    • Toast/roast in oven for 5-10 minutes until sugar melts and nuts are fragrant. Watch carefully; nuts burn quickly. Remove from oven when edges of nuts begin to turn brown. Allow to cool
    • Add to salads, especially those with blue cheese or fruit ingredients

  8. Add unexpected fruit to a savory salad: Watermelon, peaches (with green beans and feta are dynamite), plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, oranges. These fruits are especially good if paired in the salad with small bites of a soft cheese: brie, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella or feta.
    And even better if one rolls the cheese in crushed nuts, i.e., pistachios, pecans, almonds, or even, peanuts.
  9. If purchasing tomatoes to add to a salad, spring for sun gold (orange) cherry tomatoes. There is no tomato better.
  10. Sometimes a few whole herb leaves can change and elevate a leafy green salad, for example, to an arugula or mixed green salad, try adding 1-2 mint leaves torn into three or four pieces. Every bite with the mint will be unexpectedly refreshing
  11. Cooked grains or pasta, i.e., rice, quinoa, barley, farro, orzo, fusilli or elbow macaroni can be tossed with a little vinaigrette and top greens with aplomb. Nestle in the middle and build around them
  12. Put salad plates in the freezer before dishing the salad for the table. Food stays cold longer on chilled plates; as food stays hot longer on hot plates. This is a professional kitchen trick, but so easy to incorporate

Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.


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