My Big Fat Greek Salad
You can't go wrong with this Greek salad, especially if you remember the only and most important tip: toss it with the vinegar first before adding olive oil. If you don't, it will not taste as good. Which reminds me, giving the amounts here is very difficult, since this really should be made to your tastes, so please use the ingredient list as a very rough outline.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Dressing
This creative uncooked Brussels sprouts recipe has a great contrast between the raw, crunchy vegetable and the rich, smoky bacon dressing.
Chef John's Green Goddess Dressing
This creamy, herby, addictively delicious sauce is not only my favorite salad dressing, but is one of my favorite dips as well. You can of course tweak the acidity with more or less lemon, as well as play with the salt and pepper, but please do not change the trio of herbs. The way the parsley and chive play against the sweet tarragon makes this unlike any other herb dressing.
Perfect Potato Salad
This is my mother Pauline's recipe. It's pretty much a classic American salad but remember, if you add onions, use sweet onions and chop with a very sharp knife, allow potatoes to cool to room temp before dressing them, and always taste for salt.
The Brutus Salad
Watch your back, Caesar! This salad could be the next national favorite and was inspired by a salad I had at a seafood restaurant in Healdsburg, CA. With apple slices, romaine lettuce, Cheddar cheese, fresh herbs, toasted pecans, and Dijon vinaigrette, it's amazing.
Chef John's German Tater Tot Potato Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Lots of bacon, no peeling or cutting potatoes.
Chef John's Antipasto Pasta Salad
An antipasto is a cold platter of meat, cheese, and vegetables which is served at the start of a meal before the pasta and other courses, but to save some time, I thought we'd add the pasta right into the antipasto to turn into a complete meal all by itself. You could serve this as a side dish, but with a hunk of crusty bread and a glass of wine, I'm not sure what else you'd need. Top with more parsley before serving.
Chef John's Ranch Dressing
It's been ages since I made homemade ranch dressing, and I'd forgotten how much better it is than the bottled stuff.
Sweet, Hot Mustard Slaw
I enjoy a wide variety of coleslaws, but this mustard slaw may be my fave. The combo of hot and sweet has a proven track record for pleasing palates. Salting and massaging your cabbage first (aka 'cassage') will help draw out water, which sweetens up the flavor, as well as produce a flexible, yet still crunchy texture, which I think is lacking in many other 'chop and mix' recipes. Garnished here with chives and chive blossoms.
Peruvian Potato-Chicken Salad (Causa Rellena)
There's nothing very unusual about serving a chicken or potato salad at a cookout, which is why this layered Peruvian potato and chicken salad will cause such a stir. Or should I say, 'causa' a stir, since in Peru that's what this gorgeous dish is called. Infused with aji amarillo, lime juice, and cilantro, these are perfect for making ahead and packing in your cooler on a hot summer day. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and cilantro if desired.
Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Chicory Salad
If you've been looking at endive and radicchio in the stores for years but never bought any because you thought you just wouldn't like it, I'm here to tell you, you probably do--especially in a salad like this. When chicory is combined with a sweet and tangy mustard vinaigrette, mixed with toasted, crunchy nuts, and wonderfully rich, subtly salty blue cheese, it all makes perfect sense.
The Perfect Picnic Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is almost always the most disappointing side dish at the picnic or cookout, but this recipe shows you how to transform what is normally an "afterthought" to a dish that's good enough to enjoy on its own, or as the perfect complement to grilled meat. Top this with extra fresh chopped herbs if you like.