Okay, I know, it looks like just a salad, and you may be thinking, “Who wants that?” The answer is simple: You should! It’s healthy, it’s easy, and it’s an inexpensive way to eat green, both literally and figuratively. In June and July, lettuces are plentiful and in season at the farmers’ market, and they only need a little help to go from ingredient to meal.
In addition to making the most of seasonal ingredients, I have recently wanted to revisit the basics when it comes to my cooking and baking columns. Some part of me wants to challenge myself to try a complicated dish, but I’m more excited about refining and perfecting the simple recipes I’ve made time and time again.
When it comes to salad dressing, basic vinaigrette is always the name of the game for me. One of the first tasks that my mom delegated in the kitchen to my sister and me was making the salad dressing. Ours was nothing fancy, just Dijon mustard, olive oil and vinegar.
You can use anything acidic for the vinegar element. After reading about the benefits of apple cider vinegar recently, I decided to use that in my weekly batch. With the salad dressing, you can make it in a bowl, combining the Dijon and the vinegar and then slowly drizzling in olive oil to make an emulsion, which gives vinaigrette a creamy consistency. I am of the mind that less dishes makes for a happy chef, so I combine the three ingredients in a reusable glass jar and shake to get an emulsified Shake and Pour salad dressing. Simply use what you need and store the rest in the refrigerator. This way, there are no dishes necessary until you’ve finished the batch.
I like to pour slightly less vinaigrette than I think I’ll need over the leaves, then toss to coat, and taste a lacquered leaf. If it needs more dressing, more salt, or pepper, then I adjust. I tweak, I adjust. I don’t coat with my fingers, but I’ve heard of people who do. There’s no perfect or codified way-it’s all about establishing your own salad dressing routine and I’m just here to give you a nudge in the right direction.
In France, this sort of salad is served after the meal, as a palate cleanser. In theory, I’d like to do that, too, however I try to fill up on veggies first, so that I am less likely to stuff myself with less healthy ingredients.
This salad is the perfect meal-starter for filling up on vegetables. The almonds give a nice crunch, and you can doctor it with sliced hard-boiled eggs or boiled potatoes for a riff on a traditional Nicoise Salad, (which is what I did after I took the photo).
Make it a meal by adding even more summer produce. Corn and tomatoes will soon be in season, and I’ll probably shave an entire cob onto the greens. Until then, I’m content to enjoy a well-dressed salad for a healthy, light meal.
Healthy and Simple Green Salad with Shake and Pour Vinaigrette in a Jar Recipe
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp vinegar, apple cider, red wine, and white wine vinegar all work well
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 large bunch lettuce, washed and torn into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 handful basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Sliced hard-boiled eggs
- Boiled potatoes
- Halved tomatoes
- Shaved corn
To Make Dressing:
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake until emulsified. Use immediately after shaking. To re-emulsify, simply shake and pour.
To Make Salad:
Place the lettuce leaves in a large bowl. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the dressing over the leaves and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more dressing if necessary. Garnish with toasted almonds.