A Great Salad Texture Uses Both Crunchy And Soft Additions

The variety of ingredients that can be added to a salad makes it hardly seem to matter which ones you choose, right? Not so fast. When it comes to making a great salad, what matters the most is how well the ingredients play together. It's all about contrasting textures. Soft additions included with crunchy items will make each stand out in contrast. Creamy slices of avocado will make raw veggies seem crispier. Soft cheeses, such as fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, will seem all the creamier when contrasted with crunchy croutons.

This is true for all types of salad, from pasta or fruit salads to the classic greens. It's not about the number of different ingredients you put in your salad, either; more is not necessarily more. No bonus points are awarded for salads with the most ingredients. If the items you add to your salad are too similar in texture, and every bite tastes the same, your salad will be far less interesting to eat than one with just three or four ingredients chosen carefully for their contrasting textures.

Tips for combining crunchy with soft in your salad

One great example of how crunchy and creamy additions come together in a salad is in a Tuscan kale and cranberry salad. The textured kale and the sweetened, tart cranberries have starring roles, but the crisp is supplied by sliced red onions and toasted pecans. Meanwhile, feta adds a creamy element.

An apple pecan chicken salad works similarly, accenting creamy, mayonnaise-coated chicken with crunchy red onion, celery, and pecan halves along with sliced Granny Smith apples for contrasting mouthfeels in every bite. A lemon chicken salad with avocado does the same, blending soft avocado into a lemon base with sliced apples and walnuts providing added texture.  

Another example is a Greek-style seven-layer salad, which gets high points for presentation as well as for combining contrasting textures. This dish features crunchy cucumbers and sliced red onions accompanied by soft chickpeas and tangy olives, nicely set off by creamy feta.