I’ve been doing this trick for the past year or so, and I have to say – it’s my favorite way to take a salad from Good to Great. Adding a nice handful of finely grated parmesan cheese immediately takes your salad to the next level, and I think it’s something that you should do too!
I usually use Parmesan or it’s cheaper, saltier cousin, Pecorino Romano (Romano or Grano Padano cheese will work here too). I love the umami flavor and additional saltiness that these cheeses add, I find they help elevate the flavor of any dressing you pair with them. The texture of these cheeses are also key to making salad delicious – they are nice and dry, not overly fatty or greasy. This dry texture really helps intensify the flavors of the dressing and helps both the cheese and dressing fully adhere to each lettuce leaf and topping. This leads to a very well-dressed salad when fully tossed, and makes every bite super satisfying and so flavorful.
As I mentioned above, I’ve tried this method with so many different dressings this past year, and they honestly all worked. Trader Joe’s Vegan Creamy Dill Dressing or Vegan Caesar Dressing – both strongly approved. Homemade oil and vinegar dressings on a steak salad – big yes. This trick will work with store bought or homemade dressings, creamy or vinaigrettes. It’s a super simple way to bump up that year-old store-bought dressing languishing in your fridge, or to enhance your home-made vinaigrette that maybe needs a little oomph. I tend to use lower calorie dressings like the TJ’s ones mentioned above, Bolthouse Farms dressings, or homemade vinaigrettes to keep everything relatively healthy while giving me enough of a buffer to allow for my cheese addition, but use any of your favorite dressings here. It’s still a salad after all, but why not make it both as healthy and delicious as we can?
To achieve salad perfection, I usually keep the dressing and the cheese separate until I toss the salad. I recommend a big bowl for this to facilitate adequate (and thorough) mixing, as the goal is to have every leaf and topping fully coated in dressing and cheese. I start with the lettuce and add any toppings on top. Next, I’ll pour the dressing over top of all of this. For the cheese, I’ll grab my block of parm and my microplane grater and go to town, giving the salad a very generous shower of finely grated cheese (if you don’t have a microplane, the finest setting on a cheese grater will do!). Next, I’ll grab some tongs or two forks (or if it’s just me, let’s be honest, I’ll just use my hands), and toss, toss, toss, until everything is thoroughly coated. Do not skimp on the cheese, and do not skimp on the dressing either. I’m not here for dry salads, I’m here for delicious salads.
Next time you’re making yourself a salad, give this method a try! Salads do not have to be boring, bland, and tasteless. Enjoy your veggies with a little extra cheese, you deserve it!
Step by step directions with pictures are below: