Modern Dressings Move In

Creative iterations energize the salad category

Salads are back in the game after ceding the court to bowls for more than a decade. They’ve certainly learned from modern bowl builds, borrowing inspiration by employing next-level textural counterpoint and nuanced flavor-building techniques. And while careful attention is being paid to all salad components, it’s the dressing that’s now coming into sharp focus for innovation.

Gabe Erales is chef/partner of Yucatán-inspired Bacalar in Austin, Texas. His Charred Kale and Little Gem Lettuce stars masa miso, pan árabe crumbs, burnt onion vinaigrette and Cotija. “It eats like a dark malty Caesar dressing, with charred yellow onion, garlic, habanero, black sesame paste, sour orange, preserved lemon and fermented honey,” he says. The masa miso, fermented with rice koji, lends a corny sweetness to the salad. “You get a lot of umami with layers of sweetness. It’s delicious,” says Erales.

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