A bowl of greens isn’t an inherently exciting thing—but it can be. It just needs a little extra crunch. Or some citrus zest. Or a palate-pleasing bite of pickled radish. When different tastes and textures join in perfect harmony, what you have is a “cosmic salad”—something that downtown New York restaurant Dimes has down to a T. And in their first cookbook, Dimes Time: Emotional Eating, out today, founders Alissa Wagner and Sabrina De Sousa are sharing just how they do it.
There are five elements in every great salad: greens (e.g., kale, arugula), something raw (e.g., apples, tomatoes), something cooked (e.g., squash, mushrooms), something crunchy (e.g., walnuts, croutons), and something pickled (e.g., jalapeños, red onion). “People forget to garnish their salads and don’t realize how far a toasted nut can go in giving it more depth of flavor and texture,” says Wagner. “And pickled things give it a nice acidity.” If you need some simple guidance on what to put in your bowl, the Dimes team has devised a handy chart to help you out.
You can finish off your creation with your favorite dressing, but Wagner advises balance here, too: If your salad is sweet and fruity, a tart finish (like lemon) is best, and if it’s an exceptionally bold mix (think: topped in salty feta or ultra-zippy pickles), something simple (like balsamic) is ideal.
Above all, the Dimes philosophy is about eating food that makes you feel good—emotionally and physically—and that means realizing that, yes, salad can in fact be comfort food. You just need the right formula to make it.