Chef David Burke’s Simple Salad Ideas

Staff Writer
Keeping salads simple and easy is the secret to the chef’s salads
Digital Vision/Martin Poole

The chef shares his secrets to a delicious salad.

Usually when people have to make a salad, they panic over what to include. There’s the base of the salad, but then there are the salad accents, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and sliced red onion. And what about avocado? Don’t some people put avocado in their salads? Or endive? Radicchio?

What to put in your salad can get confusing, which can lead to something that doesn’t taste good, or even a bad complex about making them. Oh, and then there’s the bottle of salad dressing you’re about to dress it with. That doesn’t help, either.

I like to keep my salads simple, and by simple I mean with very few ingredients and a really strong vinaigrette. I find that the more direct and straightforward that salads are, the more often they’ll shine. Just one or two staple ingredients and a creative vinaigrette, and you’ve got a star salad. Here are my favorite ideas.

Asparagus & Mushrooms Salad

Yes, these popular vegetables often seen as side dishes can be whipped into a salad creation. Roast mushroom caps and steam the asparagus. Make a vinaigrette by mincing the stems of the mushrooms and whisking them with fine herbs, a little bit of mustard, olive oil, and poppy seeds. 

Peaches & Almonds Salad

This is one of my favorite sweet and salty combinations. I’ll make a vinaigrette of fresh herbs like basil, tarragon, and peach and lemon juice, and toss it all together for a fresh and fruity salad.

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

A classic caprese can be given a huge update when you pay some attention to the vinaigrette. I like to use the seeds of the tomatoes and red pepper flakes to whisk into my balsamic and olive oil dressing.

Fava Beans and Peppadews Salad

Peppadews are South African piquanté peppers that have a tart, sweet flavor. You can often find them in jars in your grocery store. I’ll toss them with fava beans and a vinaigrette of mustard oil, red-wine vinegar, and oregano for a beautiful and flavorful salad.

Boston Lettuce and Parmesan Salad

This salad shines because of the buttery Boston lettuce and the salty cheese. To cut the richness of the cheese, I’ll serve it with a citrus-based vinaigrette made with orange juice and zest, and a few dabs of ranch dressing.

Grapes and Cornflakes Salad

Hear me out — this does not taste as weird as it sounds. The juicy grapes and the crunchy cornflakes create a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. I make a dressing of soy milk (for the cereal, of course) and lemon juice to cut the sweetness.

Bacon and Potatoes

We see these ingredients together often, and this salad recipe is one of my versions of potato salad. I toss potatoes and flecks of bacon with a dressing made of olive oil, Sriracha, and chives for a light and spicy potato salad.

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