An herb salad is a simple easy way to enhance any sandwich, salad, or whatevs-dish that would otherwise merit a few conventional green leaves. When we compose an herb salad, we consider all the following factors and tend to roll with a mix that is one-third fines herbes, one-third extra Italian parsley, one-sixth a combination of herbs in the mint/basil family, and one-sixth dill. For the most part, dressing an herb salad is unnecessary and can cause the herbs to wilt or otherwise be weighed down and lose texture. We don’t want to mask the individual flavors in any way, but rather find balance where each herb has its chance to explode on the palate. Here’s how we do it.
1. Italian parsley is your workhorse because it’s readily available, has a larger leaf than other herbs, and has a distinctly verdant flavor that tends to blend well without overpowering. But parsley can be slightly bitter, so try to use parsley-heavy herb salads to balance sweet and acidic recipes. Bitter on bitter makes me bitter.
2. Don’t overdo any one flavor profile. For example, basil, tarragon, mint, and chervil done together would overwhelm the palate, as they all carry a mild anise flavor.
3. Fines herbes, the classic combination of parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil used in French cuisine, exists for a reason. It’s a good combo that won’t overwhelm the palate served.
4. Pick, don’t chop! For salad purposes, pick where the leaf meets the stem (as opposed to general cooking, in which herbs may be chopped, stems and all, then mixed into a sauce or with many other ingredients). For a perfect herb salad, never pick midleaf or chop (how gauche!).
5. Herb flowers are excellent and edible; include them whenever possible.
Always wash leafy herbs and greens with ice cold water and be sure to give them at least 2 or 3 good soaks, then lightly towel them dry or spin them in a salad spinner if you have one.
(Excerpted from "EGG SHOP: The Cookbook" by Nick Korbee. Used by permission of William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.)