The queen of culinary cool says that if you want a killer salad, kick up the salt and ditch the unripe tomatoes.
"There are too many other delicious veggies you can use to rely on unripe tomatoes," Food Network star Anne Burrell said in a recent e-mail interview. "And if a salad isn't dressed or seasoned properly, that's also a problem for me.
"Salt brings out the flavor in food and makes it taste like what it should be," she said. "An under-dressed or under-salted salad is just not cool."
Burrell, whose cookbook "Cook Like a Rock Star" (Clarkson Potter) is being released in the fall of 2011, also likes to add an element of the unexpected to her salads.
"I try to be surprising when I make salads. I love using less traditional greens, like escarole, which has a real bite to it and can stand up to other strong flavors. And I like to play with textures. One of my favorite salads is based on raw asparagus cut really thin so it's super crisp but still tender."
In this recipe, Burrell offered a sugar snap pea salad that contrasts the sweet taste of the peas with salty prosciutto and fresh mint.
"This salad just sings of summer to me. When I was developing it I kept thinking of how the crisp, crunchy peas and the crisp prosciutto work together for texture, and how the arugula and mint provide a lovely, fresh bed for everything. It's all so bright and green!
"I decided to use the pan juices from the prosciutto — with a bit of garlic and red pepper, of course — to make a warm dressing because I've always loved greens when they're just slightly wilted but still super-fresh."