The Simplest Salad

A classic green salad—one featuring crisp lettuces and a few raw, seasonal vegetables, tossed with a barely-there vinaigrette—instantly elevates any meal. The trick to serving a properly dressed, but not wilting, salad is in the technique in which you build the salad, starting with the dressing, in a large wooden salad bowl. (We’re partial to this satiny black walnut one from Andrew Pearce, but any wooden bowl broad enough for you to toss and mix in without fly-aways will do.) Begin with the acids: For balance, use at least two vinegars or citrus juices. Then add a drizzle of honey or a pinch of sugar—the sweetness will help to balance the acids’ bite. Finally, rapidly incorporate the oil (for best flavor, use a mix, such as grapeseed plus a good olive oil or a nut oil, such as walnut) to form an emulsion. A properly emulsified vinaigrette will suspend the acid and seasonings in the oil, coating each leaf of lettuce without weighing it down. Toss just before serving, keeping the lettuces separate by crossing tongs in bowl over vegetables until ready to eat.

Salad Done Right
Photo: Victor Protasio
Total Time:
10 mins


  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (such as a mix of white balsamic and sherry), plus more

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot

  • 1/4 lemon

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon honey (optional)

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as grapeseed)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 cups thinly sliced raw hard vegetables (such as radishes, carrots, asparagus, and cucumbers)

  • 8 cups leafy salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces

  • 1/2 cup tender fresh herb leaves


  1. Pour vinegar into a large wooden bowl; add shallot. Squeeze juice from lemon into bowl, catching seeds; rub bowl with outside of lemon rind. Discard lemon rind and seeds.

  2. Add salt, and whisk until dissolved. Add mustard; honey, if using; and black pepper. Whisk until fully incorporated.

  3. Combine oils in a spouted measuring cup; add oils to dressing in bowl in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly and vigorously until oils are incorporated and dressing looks creamy.

  4. Place salad servers or tongs in bowl over dressed vegetables. Place greens and herbs over tongs, so they are suspended above the vegetables.

  5. Just before serving, sprinkle greens with a pinch of salt; remove servers from bowl, allowing greens and herbs to fall into dressed vegetables. Toss gently to thoroughly coat the greens with dressing without bruising or wilting. Serve immediately.

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