By Sarah Sarway
Whether you brown bag your lunch or frequent a local cafe, crafting the perfect salad can be a challenge. Achieving the right balance of textures and flavors takes skill, as does making sure you’ve got enough protein to power you through the day. (Plus, eating the same spinach-tomato-chickpea combo day after day gets old fast.)
Which is why we asked Nicolas Jammet, co-founder and chief product officer of salad mecca Sweetgreen, to share some of his go-to secrets.
Sweetgreen, in case you’re unaware, is known for creating seasonal, fresh salads and grain bowls that are bursting with flavors. Customers wait in long lines to order the Kale Caesar and Hummus Tahina at about 90 locations across eight different states.
“I’m surprised that 10 years later, I still eat Sweetgreen every day and haven’t gotten sick of it,” Jammet says. (Of course, he’s a little biased.) “The key is that we make it easy to personalize your salad so you’re free to change it up.” For the record, he’s not a build-your-own kind of guy. His favorites include the seasonal Squash + Blue Cheese salad and the Chicken Pesto Parm warm bowl.
Keep reading for Jammet’s advice on how to make the most sensational salads at home or during your next visit to whatever salad spot you choose.
The Rules of a Perfect Salad
“I’ve learned to let ingredients shine on their own, which is why one of my biggest pet peeves are overly-seasoned salads that don’t let you taste the ingredients,” he says. He recommends tasting the salad before you dress or season it and adding dressing slowly.
Balance crunch and creaminess
Jammet’s secret to perfect texture? “Having enough crunch and creaminess! My go-to move is to add avocado to everything and then make sure I have something with crunch to compliment it, like tortilla chips,” he explains.
Remember that a little crunch goes a long way (too much will make it feel like you’re eating rabbit food), but that too-creamy is no good, either. “I’d never combine feta with our Caesar dressing. It’s a bit too creamy for me,” he says.
Follow your tastebuds
At the end of the day, your salad is yours and yours alone. Jammet prefers greens over grains and romaine over mesclun. His favorite cheese is goat and his favorite dressing is Miso. But your preferred flavors and textures may be totally different. Get to know your preferences and then look for combos that tap into what you love.
You might even know more than you think! After all, Sweetgreen’s brand new core menu was created differently than previous versions—they used customer feedback to design the best bowls.
(Featured Photo: Facebook/@Sweetgreen)