The Key To Crisp, Flavorful Salad Greens Is In Your Spice Cabinet

Salads are a great choice for those looking for ways to eat more veggies, and if properly composed can be a celebration of fresh flavors and seasonal produce. But they can become less-than-inspiring if you're starting with limp, flavorless greens as a base. Fortunately, there's an easy fix. All you'll need is one of the most common seasonings in the world — but used in a unique way. Behold the salt spray: salted water in a spritzer bottle.

Regardless of whether you use salt spray or granular salt, seasoning the base of your salad — and not just the dressing — is a step you don't want to skip. The aim is not to end up with a salty taste but to enhance and brighten the flavors already combined in your salad. The advantage of the spray comes from how it clings to the greens, while typical salt can wind up in the bottom of the bowl. Larger salt crystals or flakes can also weigh the leaves down, making them soggy and wilted. Adding a spritz of salt water also means that you can use less dressing, another way to avoid damp and disappointing greens. In fact, if you find yourself with fresh-from-the-garden baby lettuce and ripe tomatoes, try using the salt spray instead of dressing, so that the flavors really shine. However you salt your greens, don't forget to account for any elements that come later (like dressings or cheese) that could push the saltiness too far. 

Easy and versatile seasoning

You can find a variety of salt sprays in specialty stores or online, or you can make your own. Simply combine salt and water in a mister or spray bottle. You can start with a ratio of one cup of water to one tablespoon of salt, and adjust to taste and according to the type of salt you use. When mixed and sprayed correctly, it should mimic the strength of a similarly sized sprinkling of salt crystals. With a recipe so simple, it's vital to use the best quality ingredients. Salt used in sprays should be pure and non-iodized to avoid any offputting flavors. Filtered water should also be used for similar reasons. Mix them together when the water is warm, but let them cool to room temperature before using.

But don't limit the use of your new salt spray to salads. Many swear by a spritz or two on top of a cocktail, which awakens the flavors of ingredients and can balance notes of tartness or sweetness. Carnivores will love the way a salty spritz can transform home-cooked steaks, acting as both a brine before cooking and a flavor enhancer after. And don't forget other hard-to-season foods that can benefit from a saline pop, from corn on the cob to homemade mixed nuts.

While the options for using salt spray are endless, there's no doubt greens lovers should remember this trick when they're looking for the perfect summer salad.