Aug 03, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Salads

Our lesson in this week’s #havenskitchencookbook Summer School is all about salads. Sonjia Hyon tries to convince you why making your own Sweetgreen creation takes as much time as stalking your girlcrush on Instagram.


In The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, Ali argues that the guiding principle in making a satisfying salad is composition. By composition, she means using the base of greens, vegetables, grains, or beans as the “opening note” to find counterpoints of texture, flavor and even color to make a “winning combination.”





I always think about the salad bar of my youth at the local Sizzler. The tiny cambros of chilled peas, grated carrots, marinated beets, soft kidney beans, and dry croutons — all ready to go on top of my iceberg lettuce. (There was no “mesclun mix” at that time.) I think for many people, the childhood memory of the salad bar has shaped their notions of what salads could be—and serves as an early lesson in salad composition.

Salads are one of those dishes that people prefer to purchase rather than make at home precisely for this reason. Who has time to make all those accoutrements? We think you do.




Making a good salad takes as long as a good deep dive into Instagram—between 20 to 30 minutes—but requires a little more planning than you might like. However, we think once you bring this into your practice—like anything else including washing your face—it becomes part of your daily life.

At Haven’s Kitchen, salads are a staple at family meal. Not because we are particularly “healthy” and into spa food, but because our kitchen team makes salads that even a carnivorous T-Rex would find it fortifying, nourishing and, above all, just really good. The thing is that they’re always made with things we find leftover in our fridge and basic items from our pantry.




Here’s the basic guideline to make your best salad:

Base /  greens, grains, vegetables, legumes
The base of your salad doesn’t always have to be greens. Consider a grain like farro or beans or even other vegetables like carrots.

Counterpoints /
 texture, flavor (& color too)
These are ingredients that provide a balance of texture like chewy or crisp, plus a flavor boost and some color to your salad. When considering your counterpoints, think about the shape. For example, a crumbled or grated cheddar provides a good sharp salinity, but the creaminess is more felt when crumbled versus grated. Or consider ribboned carrot versus one cut into matchsticks. Remember, don’t overwhelm your salad with too many things, otherwise it will not be balanced. Composition is the game here.

Dressings /
  acidic, pungent, creamy
A good dressing pulls together your salad. It’s like the shoes to the outfit — you put it on at the end.

Finish / seeds, herbs, zest, salt
The finish provides an important aesthetic touch as well as flavor and texture. Consider the final sprinkle of sesame seeds. Or, gratings of Pecorino. 

As with most of our lessons, the key to a well-composed salad is one that satisfies you. While some people prefer a classic, simple salad like a Caesar (romaine, Parmesan, croutons), others want a little bit of everything (think a cobb or a classic chopped salad). Consider what you like most in terms of taste, texture, and base, then use our salad grid and your own imagination (and pantry staples) to fill in the blanks. 







Family Meal Salad

Baby Kale

Fennel, Radish, Cucumber, Corn, Carrots, Red Bell Peppers


Chopped cilantro stems

Summer Panzanella


Cucumbers, Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Parsley, Basil, Parmesan

Pantry Salad

Red Rice

Pork Belly


Sesame Seeds



Watch Ali make salads with the one and only Hannah Bronfman. Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.