Cook’s Illustrated – May-June 2023
English | 37 pages | pdf | 18.86 MB

Salad Days at Cook’s Illustrated Magazine May-June 2023 Issue

At one point in middle school, I told my family that I was a vegetarian. My mom was shocked. Not because I was one of those kids who’d ask for steak on his birthday, but because I didn’t really eat fruits and vegetables. If you looked at the food pyramid plas-tered in classrooms and doctor’s offices around that time, you’d have seen that my new proclama-tion knocked out half of the third story. And my dislike of fruits and veggies had already closed off the entire second floor. That left me with a small attic of fried foods and fats; a wide and robust foundation of pasta, rice, and bread; and a rich, oozy core of cheese and cream. Yeah, that sounded about right.
Not to my mom. Let’s just say that there was a bargaining step, and my mom and I made a deal. If I was giving up meat, I had to start a new relationship with salad. I was on board with this compromise. Where cooked vegetables threatened with squishy, questionably soft textures and pungent aromas (think: overcooked broccoli), salad welcomed with crunch and verve—and the taste and smell of the garden.
Each summer, it was my job to thin out the car-rots in our vegetable garden. I loved the feeling of tugging gently at the carrot greens until short orange nails emerged. I’d rush to the spigot on the side of the house and strip them of soil under a wide stream of cold water. Then, I’d flick off the thread at the tip of the carrot with my thumb and eat the whole spindly thing, save the handle of greens, in one bite. It was sweet, grassy, and fun.
I returned to that memory a lot over the course of the year as I stabbed my fork into salad after salad. And the bargain worked. I grew to love veg-etables—at first raw, but eventually cooked too. By the time I returned to my omnivorous ways, I was a salad enthusiast. I still am.
Andrea Geary has a modern spin on one of my favorites, Salade Niçoise (page 13), in which she plays thoughtfully with its com-ponents. Hard-cooked eggs are replaced with their jammy cousins. The potatoes, boiled per tradition, are then taken to the next level as she smashes and then fries them in olive oil until they crisp up. Clever salt science ensures that her tomatoes are extra-juicy (no matter the time of year) and that her green beans are crisp-tender, verdant, and well seasoned. Like a redecorated room, this Niçoise feels both familiar and refreshed.
Recipes are great, but we all know that the true beauty—and reality—of a salad is that it’s a flexible form that allows you to work with what you’ve got. Liz Bomze’s guide to upping your salad game on page 16 offers new dressings; smart vegetable prep; and creative ways to incorporate cheese, fruit, and quick pickles. Whether you are currently engaged in salad negotiations or already a fellow lover of the form, you’ll find ways to make yours pop.

* In our Cook’s Illustrated magazine January-February 2023 article on har gow, we erroneously listed the title of Chris Cheung’s book as Damn Good Chinese. The correct title is Damn Good Chinese Food.

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