Tag Archives: making

The Art of the Dinner Salad: 5 Tips for Making a Pile of Veggies Feel Like a Meal

I love salad. Big fluffy green ones. Crunchy ones. Hearty ones. Every salad have a special place in my heart. If I’m being honest, I’ve been caught on many occasions making a midnight snack out of a head of lettuce and some leftover dressing, a time when any normal person would be munching on shredded cheese from the bag or jarred salsa and chips. (I’m just living my truth people!) But the hard reality is that most people don’t share this feeling with me—and it’s my mission in life to change their minds. And that starts with the dinner salad.

Raw and Roasted Chopped Salad

I get that a lot of folks are resistant to the idea of eating salad—and only salad—for dinner. But as a person who almost always has friends staying over at my place, and am therefore responsible for keeping them fed, I’ve had plenty of practice converting salad skeptics. Through much trial and error, I’ve come up with a formula for a dinner salad that will satisfy both my salad hater friends and my salad obsessed self. It produces a pile of veggies that is substantial, satisfying, and a main course in and of itself—no post-meal snacking required. Here’s how to do it.

kale and brussels sprout salad

Photo by Heidi’s Bridge, styling by Molly Baz

Massaged kale makes for a more substantial salad base.

Hearty Greens

A substantial base is the key to a proper dinner salad. This is no place for boxed “spring mix” or a head of delicate butter lettuce—you need something with some oomph. I love to use cabbage (red, green, savoy, napa), kale, collards, or mustard greens, which will be able to stand up to all the flavorful add-ins, toppings, and dressings that this salad wants without wilting. The trick to making these non-lettuce salad bases delicious is to massage them with some olive oil, lemon juice and salt after they’ve been cut up. This helps to break down the tough cell structure these veggies have, rendering them tender and ready to soak up flavor.

ba basics crispy thai chicken salad plucking rotisserie chicken

Alex Lau

Leftover rotisserie chicken, tinned fish, and crispy roasted chickpeas all add protein and heft.


A dinner salad needs protein to make it really feel like dinner. Anything goes! Shredded rotisserie chicken. Last night’s roasted salmon. Jammy boiled eggs. But nobody’s saying you have to use leftovers—you can sizzle up a steak or a pork chop just for this salad endeavor if you want to make it feel less hodge-podge. And do not despair, vegans of the world: Crumbled tofu, frozen-then-thawed edamame, or crispy chickpeas are all welcome here, too.

twice roasted squash with parmesan butter and grains

Photo by Marcus Nilsson, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, Prop Styling by Angharad Bailey


Raw & Cooked Veg

Now that you’ve got a sturdy base and some protein in the mix, it’s time to incorporate some supplementary cooked and/or raw veggies. Again, this could be repurposed leftovers—roasted squash from a few nights ago, stir-fried broccoli—or some odds and ends from meal prep, like quick-pickled cukes or shaved radishes. You want to shoot for contrast, if at all possible—soft, sweet roasted carrots paired with crunchy raw cauliflower, for instance, or tender herbs and sprouts with steamed chunks of sweet potato. And don’t forget about fruit! Slivers of tart-sweet apple or Asian pear can bring both acidity and a bit of welcome sweetness to the party.

tahini ranch dressing

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Emily Eisen

This creamy Tahini-Ranch Dressing is the kind of sauce that dinner salad dreams are made of.


This is not the time for light vinaigrettes and the like—you want a dressing that packs a punch, something that has a little heft to it. Remember: Because you started with hearty greens instead of delicate lettuces, this salad can handle it. Think yogurt-based dressings, a rich tahini sauce, or a garlicky homemade ranch. If you are inclined towards something closer to a classic vinaigrette, consider adding a bit of extra citrus, a healthy spoonful of Dijon mustard, or a bunch of chopped herbs, all of which will give it the extra something-something this salad wants.


Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Toasted nuts and seeds are always welcome.


Starting to look like a pretty great salad, huh? Hearty base, protein, extra veg, a knockout dressing. Only one thing stands between you and the best salad you’ll eat all year: TOPPINGS! Don’t. Skip. This. Step! Toppings are what makes a dinner salad the crunchy-salty-creamy-craveable meal it should be. The more the merrier, but as a rule, I like to make sure to have something crunchy (think pita chips, fried shallots, croutons, nuts, seeds) and something cheesy (crumbled feta, grated Parm, nuggets of goat cheese) to really take that salad to the next level. Toppings are like the icing on a cake, or the star on the top of a Christmas tree: optional, but…not optional.

Want to see the formula in action? Try this dinner salad on for size:



A Pastry Ruler May Sound Crazy, But I’m Obsessed With Making Perfect Cookies

These trusty, cheerful pastry rulers saved me from myself. Without their help, I surely would have perished in my pursuit to bake 400-plus sugar cookies for a big party (okay, it was a wedding; okay, it was my wedding).

Hold up: What even is a pastry ruler? I first learned about these dead-simple tools when I was baking 300 sandwich cookies a week (do you sense a trend?) at a small café, and I ordered a set of my own when I grasped the enormity of my wedding cookie task. The rulers I bought come in a set of three Lifesaver-colored couples that are themselves 1/16-, 3/16-, and 1/4-inch thick. Select the thickness you want (1/4-inch for cookies, but maybe a bit thinner—like 3/16—for pie, and even thinner still for fondant or, godspeed, pasta) and position your dough in between a pair. When you move the rolling pin along them like a track, you’ll squish the dough into the exact thickness of the bars surrounding it, no thinner or thicker.

pastry ruler 2

Photo by Chelsie Craig

I favor the sturdy plastic rulers over the Silicone sets: Since Silicone is squishy, there’s a chance that if you Hulk out and push too hard, you’ll accidentally get a thinner dough than desired.

This is great because, let’s be real: When’s the last time you took a ruler to your dough and tried to measure its height? It’s impossible! And can anyone who doesn’t roll dough on the reg visualize the difference between 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch? That’s crazy talk! The pastry rulers guarantee that you’ve rolled an even slab of dough to the thickness specified by the recipe, which means that baking times will be more reliable, elusive textures (crispy or flaky or tender) will be more achievable, and cookie batches will bake more evenly.

Sure, pastry rulers aren’t the only path to uniform dough, but they are the most versatile. The alternatives include Silicone rings that screw into a corresponding pin, elevating it the desired height above the work surface, and the Epicurious-endorsed J.K. Adams Lovely Rolling Pin, a beautiful pin ingeniously designed to yield 1/4-inch dough every time. (Or, get a set that includes a sibling 1/8-inch pin). With both of these designs, the issue is the same: You’re stuck with a speciality pin that probably can’t be used in every single way you’d like. And before you know it, you’ll end up with a whole drawer of rolling pins, and who has space for that?

I’d rather have a singular fancy stick—dead-simple but exceedingly useful—in my drawer, just so long as I also have the pastry rulers that make me feel like a card-carrying Cookier ready for CookieCon.

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Carlie Steiner Is Making the World More Fun to Drink In

In our series Person of Interest, we talk to the people catching our eye right now about what they’re doing, eating, reading, and loving. Up next, Carlie Steiner, the co-owner of Himitsu in Washington, D.C. and all-around powerhouse in the wine and spirits world.

When I met Carlie Steiner for breakfast at Ellē, she was late as hell. It was all good. I had nowhere to be, stuff to read, conversations to overhear—and when things get too perfect, you know it’s all about to blow up in your face anyway. She hopped in, crutches under her armpits. Ah, shit. A few days earlier, she’d torn her ACL in a bike accident, and you know that stuff about perfect worlds all blown up? Hers just had.

Steiner is the co-owner of Himitsu, one of our favorite restaurants in D.C., where she also runs the drinks program. If you go, here’s my move: Line up at Himitsu at 4:30 p.m. even though it hurts, make it your mission to sit at the bar, order a glass of Baia’s funkadelic skin-contact wine, all of the crudos, absolutely the fried oysters, and oh my god they have Peking duck now? I gotta go back.

So the restaurant’s amazing and the drinks are bomb, but the reason Steiner is a Person of Interest is because she represents a new generation of industry leaders. Her sommelier philosophy champions women winemakers, her hospitality philosophy puts family first, and nothing stands between her and her team. The manual she wrote for her employees includes generous policies for personal days and instructions for how to read body language and how to take action if a guest is sexually harassing a staff member—or another patron. Oh that’s nice in a book, you’re thinking, but it translates to the floor of Himitsu, where Steiner circulates and keeps a lookout. “I might not be the best boss in the world, but I’m a damn good mom,” she tells me. (Not literally—she’s keeping a mother’s eye out for her team, though she also has a fluffy white dog named Storm.)

We ordered nearly everything on the breakfast menu plus the anchovy-topped Caesar salad at Ellē, and while I shoved peanut butter doughnut in my face, Steiner had a London Fog and laid it all out for me. The secrets of the universe…or at least a handful of them.

I feel empowered when… I lift. I’d never worked out a day in my life before I joined a gym earlier this year. My friend said, ‘Come to the pool with me.’ I was like, ‘Oh, hell yeah.’ You know, the Vida pool is super gay. I had the best day ever. It was like, All right. I’m gonna join this for the pool. I realized it’s a really empowering space. I can’t tell you how many people have said, ‘But, don’t get too strong.’ ‘You look good where you are.’ ‘Don’t go anymore.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, no.’ I want to look beefy.

I find joy in… Queer spaces. I have more fun when I’m hanging out with a bunch of gay people. It’s still not ‘normal’ to be gay. But [in queer spaces] I’m like, No, no. It’s normal.

I work hard: Educating my staff. [Ending sexual harassment] comes down to the management in restaurants, it comes down to owners in restaurants. Kick more people out, and take authority. I’ve seen dates where I could clearly tell the woman was super uncomfortable. I asked, ‘Would you like another round of cocktails?’ She said, ‘No, I’m okay.’ The man said, ‘No, she’ll have another.’ That’s when I directly looked at him—and because it’s my space, I have the privilege to do this, but I also tell my team, ‘You are empowered to do this. I would never fire you.’ So, I said, ‘No she won’t. She said no.’ Oh my god, I thought this guy was gonna punch me in the face.

The biggest lesson I learned from working for José Andrés was… Take care of your staff, not your guests. Because your staff will take care of your guests. José Andrés is the only person I look up to in this world more than my dad. He’s everything to me. He’s a mentor. He is a personal friend. I want to be him like 100 percent. The thing is, at the end of the day, do you want to be a cook, do you want to be a chef, or do you want to change the fucking world?

The best part of the restaurant industry is… The community, the family that you create, and the experiences you’re able to create for other people.

The worst party of the restaurant industry is… The constant and ongoing sexual harassment and not having a work-life balance.

A good morning looks like… Gaining a new weight at the gym. Competing with myself, like I always do.

Every day I… Do something gay. I purposefully say things when I do interviews now to get the stigmas taken away. To normalize lesbians and normalize mental health problems.

I feel grounded when I’m… Doing yoga. It’s such a basic answer, but it’s literally a reason so many people do it. Like straight-up savasana though. I’m not talking about hard stuff. I just want to lie on the ground.

I used to… Drink too much. I was 21. You think, You can’t be an alcoholic at 21 but when I was working at Mini Bar, we’d get blackout every single night, five nights a week. You just think, This is a bartender’s life. It took a toll on my body and it took a toll on my mental health. Alcoholism runs in my family; alcoholism runs in my community. But I’m not here to preach about not drinking either. I still drink because I’ve learned that if I cut myself off completely from anything, then I want to do it. I just tell myself, ‘Well, indulge when you want, but normally don’t.’ That’s a much better method for me.

I’m inspired by… Ashtin Berry. She just keeps me in check. She keeps everyone in check. She’s probably my biggest source of education right now outside of my own readings and studies. I’m just trying to be a more inclusive, better person. She has a very direct way of talking to people that, for me, works.

The cocktail that the world needs right now… Is a daiquiri. We should all be drinking more daiquiris.


I’m Never Not Making This Sweet Potato Dish Again

Every Wednesday night, Bon Appétit food director Carla Lalli Music takes over our newsletter with a sleeper-hit recipe from the Test Kitchen vault. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

I have sweet potato regret

There’s a saying in my family that my mom definitely invented called “not-shopper’s regret.” It’s when when you see something in a store that you like and want—say, the perfect shoe in your size—but then, for whatever reason, don’t buy. And then you regret it, and it becomes a torture and a torment. The lesson is that it is better to have shopped and returned than never to have shopped at all. Remember that.

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Right now I am in the throes of “not-cooker’s regret” and it’s because we didn’t make these twice-cooked sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. I know! I should just be grateful the bloating has gone down and happy that my socks aren’t leaving deep elastic crease marks in my calves anymore. But no—I’m in deep sweet potato turmoil, and it’s all my fault.

Last year, my dear colleague Andy Baraghani was working on the recipe for these alt-sweet potatoes right around the time that my Thanksgiving planning was underway. Because I loved them and because I wanted to do something different, I put them on our menu.

There are a million reasons why this dish could have scandalized several family members and had me banished from hosting for life. First of all, we already have a sweet potato dish we all love, a chipotle-spiked puree that my aunt makes, and no one in my family likes change. Secondly, the sweet spuds Andy was working on were baked, charred, and glazed with brown butter and honey before being served on top of an insanely garlicky puree called toum, which can cause fire-breathing in otherwise healthy adults. The whole situation is topped with nigella seeds, which look at first glance like black sesame seeds but taste a little bit like onion-pepper sprinkles. Let’s just say it’s wasn’t a very predictable addition to our Thanksgiving menu, which is harder to exert influence over than a hysterical toddler during a tantrum. But: my house, my rules. They made their debut.

cookbook sweet potato lede

Photo by Kristin Teig

Look at all the colors of sweet potatoes available to you.

The surprise was that everyone loved them. Like, love loved. My father, the stubbornest of us all, couldn’t stop with these sweet potatoes. He said things like, “Oh we always have to have those,” and “Everything was great, but that sweet potato dish!” I told Andy all about it.

And then, what happens: A year goes by and everything that was good became meaningless and forgettable?? I guess so, because I didn’t care enough to lobby for last year’s breakout star, and now I can’t stop thinking about the way the honey sticks to the charred surfaces, so that they’re kind of chewy and creamy at the same time. I miss the way you can drag a forkful of fluffy potatoes through the toum to get a perfect sweet-hot-spicy bite. I have special regrets about the way the narrow end of the sweet potato gets extra roasty and brown and candy-ish in the oven. And basically I’m just mad about everything. This is what it’s like to have not-cooker’s regret.

And that is why, now that the holidays are over and I am in charge of my everyday eating menu, I’m going to do what’s right. I’m going to cook these sweet potatoes tonight, and again this weekend, and another night next week, and for when people come over, and whenever the sweet potatoes are looking good at the market, and also for meal prep on Sunday, and any other time I please. I made a mistake this one time. All I can do is try to make it up to myself.

Get the recipe:

Twice-Cooked Sweet Potatoes with Toum