Making a Simple Salad Made Simple.
Easy Technique.

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I love eating salad. Love it. I do not love making salad. Do not love it.

When it’s summer I feel guilted into buying fresh red leaf lettuce and washing and drying it myself. Pain. Do not love it. So in the winter I give myself a break by buying the baby greens in a clamshell. Love it!

This is step one in making a simple salad easier. Just buy the damn clamshell of lettuce the odd time. I buy the organic, but whatever … you don’t have to.

But the real trick to making a simple salad realllyyyyy simple is the humble potato peeler. Yes. The potato peeler. Because the other pain in the ass about making a salad is slicing, dicing and chopping up other stuff to put in it. Because a bowl of lettuce is not a salad. It’s a bowl of lettuce.

So I always have a few salad ingredients in the fridge to make making a salad every night easy. And like I said before, what truly makes it easy is the potato peeler.


No more slicing, dicing and micing. (whatever … it rhymes) .

Grab your carrot (unpeeled) and slice it right into your bowl. The potato peeler gives perfect, even, slices of carrot. Maybe not such a shock, but a good technique not a lot of people use.

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More shocking I suspect, is how well this works with an onion. I love red onion in my salad, but not big, crunchy hunks of onion the size of a Crayola crayon. I like petite, thinly, evenly sliced onion, the likes of which is almost impossible to achieve with a knife. A potato peeler will shave off beautiful thin slices of onion.

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Throw in some feta cheese …

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… and a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds.

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See? It’s making a simple salad made simpler. I’m quite a wordsmith.

This particular salad is not a thing of beauty, but I don’t eat things of beauty everyyyy night so there’s no sense pretending I do. It tastes good and doesn’t create a stye in my eye at the thought of making it. That’s what matters.

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The potato peeler works great for just about anything you’re going to throw in a salad. Cucumber, fennel, apples … you name it. So ditch the chopping block and knife and embrace the dirty old potato peeler with elastic bands on the end. You’ll never go back. (except when carving a turkey … at this point I cannot recommend a potato peeler for that … but I haven’t finished my experiments yet)



  1. Helen says:

    I use the mandolin section of my grater – that way I can get tons of wafer thin carrots, celery, onion, cucumber – you name it! Just watch those fingers. TFS the yummy salad!
    Helen — Firenze Cards

  2. Kathy says:

    Sometimes it’s the simplest things that really work. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Karen French says:

    I am with you on loving a good salad but not the process of making it! Thanks for your tips!

    • Karen says:

      Karen – You’re welcome! I used this technique the other day with baby beets, shaved into a salad too (raw). Worked really well. ~ karen!

  4. Elaine says:

    This is such a great tip. I actually love making salads, and even more so since I discovered salad spinners. Seriously, it’s one of the best kitchen accessories I’ve ever purchased. Makes washing and drying a breeze!

    • Karen says:

      Elaine – I love salad spinners! Wish they didn’t take up so much room! ~ karen

      • susan says:

        Got rid of mine a few years ago – much more fun to wash the greens, and put them in an old pillowcase. Then I go outside and spin them around like a windmill. Might look like I am a crazy lady, but with a small kitchen, I need all the room I can get (so no room for a spinner anymore). And besides, the neighbors already know I am a little off….. LOL

  5. sara says:

    Looks delicious! I love anything that makes eating veggies easier. :)

  6. mothership says:

    OMG! my son discovered/shared this technique with me when he was 6 (yes SIX)…. on carrots… he calls em “shaved carrots”… don’t remember if he thought this up on his own or learned at school.. (he is slightly (charter school) Waldorf educated)
    but I never thought to transfer this to onions/etc!
    wooohoooo!!!! viva la frite peeler! (ok… yeah…. so I am not french…)

  7. breanna says:

    Awesome tip!! I’ve shared your post here:

    Thank you!

  8. Gayla T says:

    I would have picked you as a mandolein kind of a girl. I’m pretty thrifty but after years of cutting up boring stuff, I buy the choppy stuff off the salad bar at my grocery. It’s rediculously expensive but I don’t buy much. The girls have that inherited genetic thing of hating green stuff so I am only making salad for myself. I also get all the stuff ready and in a big tupperware bowl when I bring it home from the store so it’s ready when I want salad. I make it a lot more that way instead of deciding it’s too much trouble just to make a salad for myself. I’ll remember your idea though cause I do hate to stand and chop up stuff. Thanks Karen

  9. kelliblue says:

    “I love eating salad. Love it. I do not love making salad. Do not love it.”


    oh how I hear you, and feel you, on that one. :-P Eating good. Making bad.

    Add a spoonful of (yes) canned beans, you’ll get extra yumminess and great texture with the crunchy veggies…

  10. Mary Jane says:

    Way better salad technology than that a–hole, Vince sold me a few years ago. You know the one I’m talking about…please don’t let me get started again.

  11. marilyn says:

    wow do people live under rocks or what? great idea karen i have used a peeler to make long pieces of carrot and cukes for salad but never carrot coins. will have to try it. you should really do a post on how simple it is to make salad dressings. cannot believe how many people buy salad dressing when it is dead easy to make it and tastes so much better and is better for you.xo

    • Liz says:

      Marilyn, I would LOVE some salad dressing recipes! I don’t really care for any of the store bought ones but the only really good recipe I have is for caesar. Wouldn’t mind a little variety.

  12. Shauna says:

    This sounds delicious, but I must have tomato in my salad. I’m thinking I’m going to have to break out the knife for that one?

  13. Kelly says:

    I use a cheese grater when I make salads. The stand up four-sided kind. This works really well for me.

  14. Barbie says:

    Never thought of the peeler for onions…brilliant!
    PS: I know what you mean about finding the perfect peeler too! I accidently threw my old old old one away…it was previously owned by my husbands grandfather! I cried. It was old and rickety but amazing.

  15. Marie says:

    Looks like a Kuhn Rikon peeler and they are the best. When my mom’s arthritis in her hands was so bad she couldn’t grip a peeler, I gave her one of these. You don’t even need to grip it, you can just put one finger through the hole in the handle and glide the peeler over your vegetable. Works beautifully. I never thought of using it in salad prep but now I can’t wait to try it! Thank you for another wonderful idea.

  16. Korrine Johnson says:

    the whole thing is just genius, but i am most excited about the onions. i love THIN slices of onion in my salad but cannot get them thin enough with a knife. you are my hero (as usual)!

  17. Trysha says:

    I use either a mandolin or my food processor. One big chop, slice, mince day…lots of Tupperware full in the fridge for grab and throw together salads. So easy even my husband can do it. :)

  18. Chrissy says:

    Karen, is there a reason you do not peel your carrots? Or do you scrub them instead?

    • Karen says:

      Chrissy – It’s just plain easier not to peel them, plus that’s where all the nutrients are in most vegetables as I’m sure you know. If they’re dirty, I scrub them, if not, I just start chop/peeling. I’m a bit of a rebel that way. ~ karen

  19. Tovah says:

    I’m one of the few people who loves to chop, slice, dice, etc. It’s like my zen moment in the kitchen when I can just chop away with a big old knife.

    That being said, I am soooooooooooo using the peeler trick for the next time I make side salads with dinner. The usage on the onion is what sold me.

  20. Lisa says:

    Ok, I’ll ask the question. What the hell is lettuce in a clam shell?

    • Karen says:

      Lisa – It’s in the cooler section of the produce section. In with the bagged lettuce there’s also clear plastic “clam shell” containers of pre washed lettuce. Romaine, spring mix, baby greens, etc. etc. You open the “clam shell” pull out as much lettuce as you want, close it back up and it stays fresh for close to a week. ~ karen!

  21. Pat says:

    This is the way my husband always makes salads, when it is his turn. I agree with the nuisance of lettuce washing in winter. Large clamshells of organic do the trick, especially when you are throwing together bagged lunches for work. However, he never thought of using the peeler to shred the cheese. My work colleagues are always impressed with my salad when he makes it.

  22. angela says:

    I have one of those slap and chop things from Oxo that I use when I make salads. I am like you, I love salads but HATE making them!!

  23. Lynn says:

    Girl, you DESERVE a new peeler for goodness sake!
    And I deserve a new can opener for that matter – mine does not look like the dog chewed it but it works like crap so looks can be deceiving…. :)

    • Karen says:

      Lynn – I will *never* give up my peeler. I bought about 10 of them about 12 years ago and FINALLY found one I liked. ~ karen!

  24. Clever idea….will give it a try….also did you see on pinterest that you can make your salad ahead of time and then put them into mason jars….they said it keeps it fresher…..

  25. Leslie Zuroski says:

    Sometimes we need someone else to show us the way! Thanks for this Karen.

  26. Melissa says:

    I have to say… I like the idea. I do have a mandoline and can use it when there is enough counter space (hard to come by when you have a three year old* in the house) BUT this technique allows performance in cramped, chaotic quarters.

    If I were one of those women who blogged about mommyhood and how I make it that much better, I would – giving credit of course – link to this from my blog.

    * the counter could probably benefit from your ‘throw out 50 things now’ post. :D

    • splendidcakes says:

      “If I were one of those women who blogged about mommyhood and how I make it that much better”-
      Priceless-I hate those women!!

  27. gogothrift says:

    I know the “incident” of which you speak. I demand $10,000 in small bills to be delivered in a brown suitcase to my front porch at noon TODAY….or else…

  28. Karena says:

    Karen…this may even inspire me to keep more fresh veggies in the house!! Plus I think you salad DOES look like a work of art, colorful different textures, etc!

    Art by Karena

  29. Violet says:

    I also hate making salad because it’s one of those things that always tastes so much better when somebody else makes it. It doesn’t matter if I use the exact same ingredients, it’s never as good and I have no idea why.

    Maybe the potato peeler is the answer.

  30. Anemone says:

    Omg…whatttt? You sliced an onion with a potato peeler. What? Omg. Oh no you didn’t…omg. I swear you are a genius. What? How did you? What? I would have never thought of that. Never. Love it. Love it. I have to say thank you. Thank you. For sharing your delicious salad and potato peeler.

  31. How do you know all this stuff??? I would never have thought of that, and yet chunky cucumber slices really drive me mad, I spend so long trying (and failing) to get even thin slices with a knife. YOU ARE MY HERO.

  32. Meg says:

    OMFG. IMHO this post should be titled “I’m so good at making salad I make other people skinny.”

    You’re @#($*@%&!$ brilliant. I never ever make salad, because I absolutely loathe cutting very small amounts of a very lot of ingredients. But as you’ve said, a bowl of lettuce does not a salad make. I *like* salads at those salad bars where you can have some of about 30 different things.

    I’m gonna try making salad!! When I lose 10 pounds on my potato peeler diet, I’ll be sure to give you credit. But only because it’ll frighten people when I answer the question “how’d you lose so much weight so fast!? ” and I answer “With a potato peeler.”

  33. Janelle says:

    Looks good…but would chickens eat it?

  34. gloria says:

    What is this clamshell you’re talking about? I’m not from around here, I guess.

  35. Anna says:

    Are those rubber bands around the handle of your peeler so that you can keep a better grip on it? BRILLIANT. I cannot tell you how many little chunks of my finger have ended up in the dinner because I lost my grip on the peeler.

  36. Tricia Rose says:

    What about a mandolin? Almost guaranteed to get a protein-enriched salad of course, but lovely easy slices.

    • Karen says:

      Tricia. Just more of a pain and harder to clean. Plus most people keep their peeler right in a kitchen drawer whereas a mandolin is never that handy. Tis great. – k

    • MimiLou says:

      I think a mandolin is the BEST thing EVER. It warrants the prime real estate in my kitchen.

      • Karen says:

        I love my mandolin too. Just don’t have room for it on the counter and to get it out of my cupboard I have to move the Foodsaver, the hand blender, and a set of bowls. So .. potato peeler it is. (unless I’m making some type of scalloped potato) ~ karen!

  37. Sandra C says:

    Gonna try this! Another weapon of choice in my kitchen is a cheese blade/knife. The kind that kinda looks like a mini cake server with a slit in the flat part. I haven’t used it for anything but cucumbers but it makes great thin slices of cukes! I slice them this way for quick pickles, salads or sandwiches.

    • cruella says:

      Every Swedish home have several cheese slicers (or “cheese planes” in direct translation) of that kind. Very handy tool for thin slices of anything. And in a tight spot you can even use it for serving cake:)

  38. Rebecca says:

    I have a fancy shmancy peeler that I believe was originally created as a torture device. Yeah, it can peel a tomato, as long as you don’t mind losing a bit of finger skin.

  39. Marti says:

    Oh hurray! Someone else who eats fennel in their salad at home! HURRAY!!

    Karen – how many times have you set that veg peeler through your disposal? Have you figured out a fix for keeping stuff from falling in there and getting ugli-fied like that?

  40. Carol mcclure says:

    Karen, do you give your peeler to the dog as a chew toy between peeling random objects? It looks….well-loved.

  41. Lynne says:

    Looks yummy – what kind of dressing works with this ?

    • Karen says:

      Lynne – A standard balsamic vinagrette is fine. I like to add a bit of honey or dark brown sugar to sweeten the dressing a bit sometimes. – k!

  42. Design Love says:

    Funny because as I made my yummy salad tonight, I thought I’m not going to chop a damn thing, nope! So I got out my shredder, and shredded my carrots instead! So good and pretty.I used my mixed greens,shredded carrots, craisins,(cherry) almonds with Balsamic vinegar drsg. So easy, and delish! But good to know about the peeler! I’ll try that next time.


  43. Kate says:

    ohhh I love this — I’ve always used a potato peeler to get nice thin slices of cheese, never thought of it for onion!

    • Karen says:

      Kate – I know! When I started doing this (randomly … no idea why or how or when I discovered this worked) I was stunned it worked so well. A lot of it will depend on your particular peeler though. ~ karen!

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