Slick and watery vegetables can be hard to flavor; dressings and seasonings slide right off. Salting them first draws out moisture, leaving behind firmer, drier vegetables to which seasonings can stick.
Look no further than our Persian Tomato and Cucumber Salad (Shirazi Salad) to see this principle at work. By salting the tomatoes and cucumbers first, they will release about ½ cup of liquid—moisture that would otherwise leave the salad water-logged and bland.
As often is the case in the kitchen, this technique is all about timing, and it’s one we also use in our Smashed Cucumber Salad—a recipe you can find in our latest cookbook, Milk Street: The New Rules.
Whether it’s salting first and dressing later, or charring your vegetables to tame bitterness, The New Rules cookbook contains smart, simple techniques and tips that will change the way you cook. This book isn't about discarding culinary history, says Christopher Kimball. It's a chance to learn from others. These rules may be new to us, but they are conventional wisdom for millions of home cooks around the world.
Check out The New Rules cookbook here and try Rule #4, a great one for this time of year, in the recipe below.