Cookbook review: The science of a well-crafted salad

‘The Salad Lab: Whisk, Toss, Enjoy!’ by Darlene Schrijver (Simon Element, $32.50)
"The Salad Lab: Whisk, Toss, Enjoy!" by Darlene Schrijver (Simon Element, $32.50)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

"The Salad Lab: Whisk, Toss, Enjoy!" by Darlene Schrijver (Simon Element, $32.50)

“Some people keep designer bags; I have multiple types of extra-virgin olive oil in my pantry,” declares Darlene Schrijver. “What can I say, I love good ingredients!”

The former market researcher-turned-TikTok star also counts a few top-notch vinegars, Maldon flaky sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, Maille-brand mustard and local honey among her kitchen essentials. These items — along with fresh California produce, hand-crafted salad bowls, and test tubes and beakers for mixing and measuring — characterize the presentations that earned her millions of followers and laid the foundation for her debut cookbook, “The Salad Lab: Whisk, Toss, Enjoy!” (Simon Element, $32.50).

Schrijver became the family salad-maker as a kid, a knack she’s been polishing ever since. Her repertoire flourished while helping her daughter maintain a healthy diet as a youth and Junior Team USA Olympic weightlifting athlete. When her daughter called from college to ask her to write down the recipes, a friend suggested she film and post them on TikTok instead. As a nod to her family’s science interests, Schrijver donned a lab coat instead of an apron and incorporated chemistry tools into her demos. Her schtick caught eyeballs, and her creativity kept them captivated.

Schrijver draws inspiration from restaurant menus, farmers markets, celebrity media postings, and travels, and she organizes her content accordingly. Along with spins on classics such as tabbouleh and Caesar, she offers Viral Sesame Chicken based on a Kylie Jenner favorite, Tapas Salad inspired by a visit to Spain, and All in One Thanksgiving Salad with all the holiday flavors served cold.

I had a blast assembling Arizona Chopped Salad, a riff on a signature of the Grand Canyon state that includes smoked salmon, pearl couscous, pepitas, freeze-dried corn, shaved Asiago and dried cranberries. Its creamy herbal dressing pulled together the unusual combination of flavors and textures. Before tossing, I couldn’t resist showing off my colorful composition to guests.

One bite and I knew what Schrijver meant when she claimed that “a fabulous salad and a beautiful glass of wine or cup of tea is forever my ideal meal.”

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

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