How to make a restaurant-style green salad at home

Dress a green salad just before serving to avoid limp leaves.
Dress a green salad just before serving to avoid limp leaves. Photo: Shutterstock

I want to make my green salad taste like the ones at restaurants. C. Zhao

Depends which restaurant. If you wanted to make a salad like the one I had in a restaurant in Hobart recently, you'd take some old carrots, cut them the day before and add some cold boiled broccoli and some other veg I confused for compost. Completely neglect to dress the veg and charge $15 for it. Or, you could take some very fresh tender leaves such as rocket, endive, chicory and wash them thoroughly in cold water to remove any field dirt. Dry the leaves well in a salad spinner and place them in a large bowl at least three times the volume of the leaves. Mix a vinaigrette in a small bowl or jar. It's a ratio recipe: three parts really good oil (olive, macadamia etc) to one part good acid (red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice rather than in the Timothy Leary sense). Add salt, a little black pepper and whisk to form an emulsion. Pour your dressing over the leaves and gently massage it in with the tips of your fingers. Many leaves have an oil-soluble coating that is removed by the oil in the dressing. The leaves will wilt within an hour or so, so make sure you dress the salad just before serving.

What is the best potato for roasting? M. Moore

A few weeks back we were discussing crisp roast potatoes. To achieve this, we parboiled the spud to gelatinise or soften the starch. We let the spuds cool a little then we added fat and roasted the potatoes. Some potato varieties are starchier than others and will give you a crisper exterior. Starchy or floury potato varieties include coliban and king edward. All-purpose potatoes that are also suitable for roasting include desiree, kennebec, pontiac, red rascal, royal blue, sebago and spunta. I am most impressed by the wilwash potatoes from Jones Potatoes that can be bought online at jonespotatoes.com.au.

What do I do with feijoas? A. Callahan

My daughters call them bubble gum fruit because of their ridiculously aromatic flesh. These leathery-skinned fruit, originally from South America, are green when ripe and often juiciest as windfalls. They're high in vitamin C, B group vitamins and antioxidants. They ripen in a flush in late autumn-early winter so gardeners will have a sudden glut, passing on shopping bags filled with the fruit to unwitting neighbours. Kiwis (the residents, not flightless birds) are particularly fond of feijoas and a chum from across the Ditch showed me how to cut a feijoa in two by running their thumbnail around the equator of the fruit then twisting the feijoa to reveal two halves. You can scoop out the innards with a spoon and enjoy the sweet, slightly gritty flesh. Peel feijoas and stew them with a little water and sugar over medium heat for 15 minutes or until soft. Peel and place raw  fruit in a blender with other fruit to make a smoothie or add the pulp to some ice, lime juice and white rum to make a cocktail. Slice the peeled fruit and mix with chopped apple to make a pie or fruity crumble, substitute for mashed banana in a cake recipe or in place of mango in a chutney.

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