Adding almonds, pecans, pistachios, or other nuts is a great way to level up your salad. Not only are nuts delicious, but their protein and fat turn a skimpy side into a filling meal. What's not to like? Well, there is one thing. Salad and nuts don't always mix — literally. It's not fun to take 10 bites of plain spinach before uncovering a hidden pocket of walnuts. Emily Fiffer, co-owner of Los Angeles restaurant Botanica, has the solution: Add nuts to your salad vinaigrette.
"The only way to get nuts in the nooks and crannies of all of the leaves is to incorporate them into the dressing," she told Bon Appétit, explaining, "Chop them fine and stir them into the vinaigrette, where they'll become infused with even more flavor." This way, instead of trying — and failing — to mix nuts evenly with leafy greens, you can ensure there is a little crunch in every bite. Here's how to try what could become your new favorite salad hack.
How To Prep Nuts For Salad
Stop. Put down the knife. Before you do anything else, you need to toast your nuts. Toasted nuts not only have a delicious, well, toasty flavor, but they stay crisper longer. That's important when you're dousing them in salad dressing. (Psst: You can toast nuts perfectly in the microwave.)
The next step is to process the nuts into small pieces. How you go about that depends on how lazy you're feeling, what equipment you have in your kitchen, and which nuts you're about to eat. Finer, more delicate nuts (and seeds, like pine nuts) can be broken up with a mortar and pestle. Pecans and walnuts can be chopped with a plain old chef's knife — just watch out for nutty shrapnel. You can also throw them into a food processor and pulse. Last but certainly not least, you can pour them into a freezer bag and whack them with a rolling pin until they are not quite pulverized.
Once you have finely chopped nuts, add them to your salad dressing. Don't panic if they sink to the bottom. Try transferring the mixture to a jar and shaking vigorously before pouring it onto your greens. Gently toss the salad, making sure nuts are touching every leaf.
Nutty Salad Inspiration
Congratulations! You know how to make salad dressing with a nutty crunch in every bite. But what about the rest of the salad? There's good news: You can try this dressing technique with practically any salad recipe that includes nuts or seeds. Just add them to the vinaigrette instead of tossing them with the leaves.
Refine a classic raspberry walnut salad by adding toasted, chopped walnuts to the dressing. Add crushed pine nuts to an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Punch up a miso peanut butter dressing with actual peanuts (or just use the crunchy variety). And if you've got a taste for sweet salad toppings, try candied nuts. They even come pre-roasted — all you need to do is chop them up and whisk them into your vinaigrette.
Don't worry, people with nut allergies. This dressing technique works just as well for popular nut alternatives like sunflower seeds and pepitas. Everybody should get the chance to try crunchy, nutty salads.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.