Thomas J. Story
• Buy fresh. Inspect the lettuce for browning, wilting, dried spots, or other signs of age. You want leaves to be bright, crisp, and moist.
• Dry the leaves. Water wilts greens and dilutes dressing. A toss with a few paper towels picks up the moisture left by most salad spinners.
• Match greens with the right dressing. Butter lettuce and tender spring greens are best when gently coated with a lightly acidic dressing. Heavier greens can stand up to big flavors and stronger acids.
• Make it bite-size. Cut all your ingredients roughly the same size. This makes the salad easier to eat and keeps attention on the flavor.
• Let the flavors mix. When making a dressing, let the acid (vinegar, lemon juice) absorb the seasonings (garlic, shallot, spices, herbs) for at least 15 minutes before adding the oil.
• Check seasoning. Dip a leaf of lettuce into the dressing; it'll give you a more accurate taste than sampling with a spoon.
• Toss with your hands. No other tool is as gentle or gives you as much control.