With warm weather comes a fresh crop of tasty produce—and our cravings for all things fresh and crunchy. Enter: salad season. To help you up your greens game, we called on award-winning chef Cory Vitiello for his salad-making mastery.

1. Take advantage of what’s in season.

Lean on in-season produce to max out your dish’s taste, color and freshness. “Late spring and early summer are truly the most inspiring seasons to create and cook from, with the first asparagus, tender lettuces, bright herbs, wild mushrooms and spring peas,” says Cory.

2. Master the mix.

“As with any dish, balance is key,” says Cory. “In a salad you want hit all of the notes to keep each bite as exciting as the first. I like introducing both cooked and raw ingredients, crunchy elements, and creamy cheese to create as many textural and flavor contrasts as possible without getting too far off-course.”

3. Keep your plating fuss-free.

“As a rule, I like my food to look like it simply fell onto the plate, and not look manipulated or over-handled—just piled high, fresh and natural,” says Cory. That said, there’s still room for creativity: “I love using long tender ribbons of shaved zucchini to add body and a fresh delicate crunch.” Cory uses a mandolin for the task but for a safer option, he recommends shaving around the spongy center core with a vegetable peeler.

4. Don’t skip the crunch.

Want to make a dish of greens a lot more satisfying? “I never prepare a salad without a crunchy component,” says Cory. “Whether it’s a nut, seed or fried bread, every salad needs crunch.”

5. And don’t lose the crunch!

Working ahead? To avoid sogginess, Cory recommends choosing hearty greens and vegetables that hold up when prepared in advance. “For example, use an endive mix rather than leafy, delicate greens,” says Cory. “Also, this is basic but don’t dress until the last possible minute.”

6. Make your own dressing.

Take your dish up a notch by finishing it with your own vinaigrette. Need a little inspo? Steal this simple recipe that Cory recently served for Dr. Barbara Sturm’s poolside luncheon: “Take a handful of the bright green wild leek tops—you want nice and tender young ones—and blend them until smooth with shelled pistachios, a clove of garlic, salt, olive oil, basil, parsley and a splash of white wine vinegar.”

June 20, 2022 — Caitlin Kenny