How to Make a Simple Green Salad

Many of you will wonder why I am even bothering to post a recipe for a green salad. But I think those readers who are newly arrived in the kitchen will find these guidelines helpful. This recipe is easy to memorize and customize. Once you have it down, you will be able to bring a healthy, delicious salad to the table in less than 5 minutes.

The keyword, of course, is healthy. Salads are supposed to be good for you but all too often are loaded with hidden fats and calories. The culprit is salad dressing. Bottled salad dressings are loaded with fats and, worse, sugar, plus all kinds of chemical preservatives that I wouldn’t want to put into my body. Once I started making my own salad dressings, the stuff from the grocery store tasted awful to me, primarily because of the added sugar. When you make the dressing yourself, you control how much fat — and therefore how many calories — you add.

A good green salad actually requires very little dressing, just enough to lightly “dress” the greens. It also doesn’t need very much in the way of extra ingredients. You can make a perfectly satisfying salad with mixed greens alone or by adding a handful of an accent ingredient. Don’t feel like you have to toss in all the contents of the vegetable crisper.

Green Salad

Yields: as many servings as you need
Time to make: ~5 minutes

What you need:

  • 1½ cups salad greens (about 1 handful) per person
  • good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • vinegar of your choice
  • salt and pepper
  • additions as desired (see below)
  1. Wash and dry the greens; a salad spinner comes in very handy at this point
  2. Tear the greens into bite-sized pieces if they are not “baby” greens
  3. Add the greens to the salad bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil
  4. Toss until the leaves are just lightly coated and glistening; they should not be soggy
  5. Sprinkle with vinegar, salt and pepper
  6. Toss gently and taste; add more of anything until the taste is to your liking

Notes: If you like, choose 1 or 2 additional items to toss in. My favorite additions are home-made croutons (keep reading), cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, toasted nuts or crumbled cheese.

What, you say you don’t know how to make croutons? Nothing could be simpler.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Remove the crusts from preferably day-old bread, such as French, Italian, sourdough or peasant bread, and cut the bread into cubes
  3. Toss the cubes with olive oil and salt, seasoning, herbs and/or garlic to your tastes
  4. Brown in the oven until crisped, 8-10 minutes
  5. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days

Want to take it a step further? Try making a Vinaigrette.

For even more tips on how to make a great salad, see this article by James Peterson.

Here’s a reference to the different kinds of salad greens at Cook’s Thesaurus.


Tagged: , , , , ,

18 thoughts on “How to Make a Simple Green Salad

  1. Nicole 22 April 2007 at 6:47 am

    Great post! The key to a great green salad and a way to keep calories down is to toss the salad in the bowl before serving! So many people pour tons of dressing on their salad after serving it and not only end up consuming more calories but half the greens end up without dressing so it doesn’t taste as good! In Sicily, they often use lemon juice rather than vinegar on salad greens. I like to alternate between the two!

    And I love that you included instructions for homemade croutons…many people don’t realize how easy they are to make at home! Since I started making croutons at home, I can’t imagine eating those dried out, preservative-laden things they sell at the grocery store 😉

  2. dylan555 22 April 2007 at 9:42 am

    I wish we could have crunchier lettuce when we have salads.

  3. Shannon 22 April 2007 at 9:52 am

    Nicole, thanks for the extra notes. It is true that the key to good flavor without a lot of dressing is tossing with the dressing in the salad bowl, just before serving so the greens don’t get soggy.

    Honey, I will try to alternate different kinds of greens so we both get what we like at least some of the time. But no iceberg, so quit asking!

  4. dylan555 22 April 2007 at 10:14 pm

    I’ll never stop asking for iceberg lettuce, it’s the best kind!

  5. […] Notes: Homemade croutons are essential for a salad like this. Find out how to make croutons. […]

  6. […] I feel like I need to return to my root inspiration, the name I chose for this blog: Simply Cooking. What has most inspired me is teaching myself how to cook, learning basic techniques well and adapting them, being able to turn out a wonderful meal from the simple ingredients I have on hand without even relying on a recipe. When I look back at my blog, I see that the most popular posts are the ones where I share what I learn, such as how to make a great quick tomato sauce for pasta or how to put together a simple green salad. […]

  7. […] garnishes: croutons, pesto, crumbled goat cheese, swirl of sour cream, chopped roasted red peppers or other vegetables […]

  8. […] serve, garnish with croutons and/or shredded cheese. Remove the Parmesan rind before serving. Possibly related posts: […]

  9. […] Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoFarmers Market Vegetable Soup « Simply Cooking on How to Make a Simple Green SaladFarmers Market Vegetable Soup « Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoNancy on How to Roast […]

  10. […] Useful How-tos for Cooking Posted on 17 July 2008 by Shannon My how-to articles are among my most popular posts on this blog. I don’t write nearly enough of them, because it’s tough to write a good how-to, especially for tasks I might do all the time and consider second nature. […]

  11. […] “breakfast” theme, this would be nice served with a couple of large, freshly toasted croutons. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Two Salads: Horseradish Slaw (Cookthink) & […]

  12. […] but after a while, you start craving some really fresh veggies. I’ve been wanting to make salads and simply cooked fresh vegetables, such as asparagus with a sauce Gribiche. Speaking of asparagus, […]

  13. […] Simple green salad […]

  14. […] for 12 minutes or so at 400 degrees. Serve with some spring peas sauteed in butter and onions and a simple green salad, and you have an easy weeknight […]

  15. […] and tomatoes again. Gazpacho is great with lots of garnishes. Try avocado, red onion or homemade croutons. Here is my […]

  16. […] party stand-by; I made a great version for Thanksgiving snacking with slowly caramelized onions. A simple green salad is always a welcome addition at a dinner party, and buttermilk drop biscuits can round out a brunch […]

  17. cool bike frames 5 July 2016 at 3:08 am

    Very good write-up. I definitely love this site. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: