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.
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)
- Wash and dry the greens; a salad spinner comes in very handy at this point
- Tear the greens into bite-sized pieces if they are not “baby” greens
- Add the greens to the salad bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil
- Toss until the leaves are just lightly coated and glistening; they should not be soggy
- Sprinkle with vinegar, salt and pepper
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Remove the crusts from preferably day-old bread, such as French, Italian, sourdough or peasant bread, and cut the bread into cubes
- Toss the cubes with olive oil and salt, seasoning, herbs and/or garlic to your tastes
- Brown in the oven until crisped, 8-10 minutes
- 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.