"I used to hate salad growing up, but I was just making it wrong," Violet Witchel says in a viral TikTok that has been over 7 million times. "It's 100% about texture."
It’s true: There’s nothing worse than a sad salad with wilted lettuce and no crunch factor. With no real need to chew it, it might as well be soup — cold, not-at-all-comforting soup.
According to Witchel, who posts videos of herself cooking recipes in her college dorm room, the right way to make salad involves giving the lettuce an ice bath.
In the TikTok, Witchel guides viewers through her method for making the "Perfect Crunchy Salad," as she titles it.
Step one: Remove the top and bottom of a head of romaine lettuce, then soak it in a bowl of ice water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Witchel, who goes by @violet.cooks on TikTok, then takes her lettuce out of its ice bath and shows us the difference between the "ice water lettuce," which looks bright green and sturdy, and the unsoaked lettuce, which looks pale and droopy.
We know the ice-bath method for blanching greens, to keep them crisp and green after boiling, but shocking them from raw? It’s, well, shocking.
OK, so, this hack isn’t entirely new — in 2011, the Los Angeles Times suggested "refreshing lettuces and herbs" by placing the lettuces or herbs "in a large bowl of ice water" and shaking them around a bit "to perk them up."
But to many on TikTok, including myself, it’s a game-changer.
While her lettuce is soaking, Witchel also makes homemade croutons and preps her favorite cheese and salad dressing, along with bacon. Then she tosses everything together in a bowl.
"Season it up really well then toss it and enjoy," she instructs.
I tried Witchel's method in my own kitchen and was pretty blown away by how flavorful, cold and fresh the lettuce tasted.
I'm also completely down with Witchel's toppings, which made a delicious lunch salad for my 10-year-old and me. (She even came back into the kitchen looking for more, but the salad bowl had been picked clean.)
Witchel said she discovered the hack accidentally.
"Our sink water was lukewarm and so to make it cold so the lettuce didn't get floppy, I added ice and it came out much crispier than usual," she told TODAY Food. "I started adding ice when soaking my lettuce."
Witchel, who also makes homemade gluten-free croutons in the video, said she has lots of other gluten-free salad ingredients she turns to regularly.
"When you're making something gluten-free, one of my most important tips is to not try and replace foods with gluten with a gluten-free alternative," she said. "It will never be as good and you'll just be left wanting the real thing."
"Focus on things that are delicious and naturally gluten-free," she continued. "Foods like bacon, hard-boiled eggs, Parmesan cheese and avocado are all great gluten-free additives that can make a salad fun without leaving you wanting 'the real thing.'"
While this technique, like so many others I've seen on the app, might not necessarily be new, a new generation of cooks are coming across it for the first time — and in this case, might just be inspiring some users to eat their greens.