With something like nine cookbooks under their belts, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the co-founders of Food52, are practiced at producing exactly what cooks need. Mighty Salads is their take on making salads that are not just an appetizer, but are an entire meal. These are substantial salads with a mix of ingredients and flavors that satisfy, not whet, the appetite.
The salads are organized sensibly, by leafy greens, not-so leafy vegetables, grains, pasta and meat salads. I know when I think of making a salad, my thought process begins with what form it will take, grains, pasta, greens, or vegetables, so this organization makes sense to me.
Many of the salads are incredibly appealing. For example, a salad of charred romaine, peas, scallions, and bacon caramelized with brown sugar and paprika. I need to go shopping to make it, but it’s on my list because it sounds so delicious especially with the narrative of the recipe suggesting some wine and a sunset.
There are unique, fresh, and exciting salad recipes that are visual and sensory winners. The narrative is fun and light-hearted, using words like zhoosh and calling us readers cats, as in “you crazy cat”. There are many recipes with special ingredients most people will not have on hand, but then these are extraordinary salads with bold flavors and combinations. By special, I don’t mean weird and unheard of ingredients, but things folks generally buy for specific recipes because who has room in their fridge and pantry for so many items.
I love the size of this cookbook, just short enough that it will fit on an ordinary book shelf, not an extra tall shelf. There are useful tips on how to substitute lettuces, keep herbs fresh, cut them, how to melt cheese smoothly, and how to make great eggs. The photos are beautiful, colorful, and sometimes appealing.
I will confess that I am tired of the mess all over the countertop photos. I used to like them because they were something new and fresh. Now a clean counter would be original and fresh. There are some photos without a mess, but then the tablecloth is wrinkled, the folds not ironed out. It just seems to me that if someone spent this amount of time making a beautiful salad, they might spend a few minutes cleaning the counter and shaking out the tablecloth. And these are not quick and easy salads. They have many ingredients and sometimes require several steps, for example broiling each individual ingredient before mixing them in a salad. I don’t know about you, but if I put that effort in the cooking, I would serve them on a clean table with a neat tablecloth. It’s a fad, I get it. It’s beginning to wear thin because everybody is doing it now.
I think is a good cookbook. I love salads and make them often and will not just make salads from this book, but make salads inspired by it….perhaps substituting an ingredient here or there for something new.
I received a copy of Mighty Salads from the publisher through Blogging For Books.
- Mighty Salads at Penguin Random House | Ten Speed Press
- Food52 – Food community, blog, recipe exchange.
- Amanda Hesser: profile in New York Magazine
- Merrill Stubbs: profile in Daily Herald