Salad pro-tip: Throw a spoonful of jam in your dressing

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Working from home, I’m freed from office desk-lunch tethers. I can reheat leftovers no matter how pungent; I can eat cereal three days in a row; I can make a meal of half pancakes and half mac-and-cheese and no one’s there to judge. But on spring and summer days when I’m trying to eat healthy and use up the beautiful vegetables from our garden, I make giant salads.

Over months, I’ve learned the necessary step of massaging kale, and I’ve learned how to perfectly poach eggs for my Lyonnaise salads. I’ve become a salad professional. But the easiest salad trick I’ve learned is to add a spoonful or two of jam to your homemade dressing. It adds sweetness, which is often lacking in acidic vinaigrettes, and it allows for multiple flavor combinations. Salad fatigue is real, but not if you have lots of fun jams on hand.

The first time I tried it, I was making a standard white-wine vinaigrette, and went to reach for the honey I usually use to offset the acidity. We were out of honey, dammit. I opened the fridge in search of another sweet condiment, and my eyes landed on orange marmalade. Why not? It worked, adding a welcome citrus layer to the dressing’s flavor. I’ve also had success with balsamic vinaigrette with a scoop of berry jam—strawberries and balsamic are a classic combo for a reason.

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The possibilities are fairly open, as long as the acid component of your dressing—vinegar, lemon juice, etc.—doesn’t clash with the jam’s flavor. With the rainbow of fancy jams and preserves and compotes at the grocery store and farmer’s market these days, you can get quite creative. Raspberry-peach-champagne vinaigrette is next on my list.

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.