Kenji Lopez-Alt Kenji Lopez-Alt
October 11, 2015

Q: Your new cookbook, The Food Lab, is packed with brilliant tips on the hows and whys of good cooking. Can you give us a sneak peek at a couple of your favorite tips?

A: Gladly! Let's start with salads.

Ever notice how halved cherry tomatoes and diced cucumbers can turn a nice chopped salad watery? Try salting them 15 to 30 minutes in advance and letting them rest in a colander. Presalting also helps intensify the flavor of the components in a chopped salad.

On a related note, try rinsing sliced onions in warm water before adding them for all the sweetness and none of the bite—as I do with red onion in my Marinated Kale Salad here.

Another (non-salad) tip: Because fall is the start of meat loaf season, use powdered gelatin to add moisture to your meat loaf and meatballs. A single quarter-ounce packet of gelatin bloomed into the liquid portion of your recipe (whether it's buttermilk, broth, tomato sauce, or even just water) will create a cross-linked network of proteins that keeps juices locked inside until you're ready to slice and serve.

Marinated Kale SaladHands-on: 15 min. Total: 1 hr. 15 min.

Kenji's genius method here is to massage the hearty kale with olive oil and a little salt and then let it stand for up to an hour to soften and become tender yet crisp.

Follow These Steps:

1. Massage kale with olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl, coating all surfaces, about 2 minutes. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

2. Rinse onion in a sieve under warm water for 2 minutes. Drain well. Combine onion, sumac (if desired), and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Combine juice, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl.

3. Add juice mixture and chickpeas to softened kale; toss well. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Top with onion mixture.

SERVES 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)CALORIES 340; FAT 13.3g (sat 1.7g, mono 8.2g, poly 1.9g); PROTEIN 14g; CARB 47g; FIBER 9g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 6mg; SODIUM 559mg; CALC 422mg

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