Fresh leafy lettuce. Red wine vinegar. Good olive oil. These are a few of my favorite things. I mean, if I'm being totally straight, I'm a salad junkie. I know, it's a cliche. L.A. girl likes lettuce. "I'll just have a salad and some water", says the lady to the waitress.
Seriously though, I'm crazy for the green crunchy stuff. Still, let's be clear, unless it's arugula, mache or frisee, I'm talking about real lettuce. The kind that can stand on it's own. Red leaf, green leaf, romaine, red oak, green oak, butter, and gem lettuce. None of these so-called "baby mixed greens". I've noticed that these tend to be people's base for a throw-whatever-you-feel-like-into-it salad. I can appreciate that there is a place for that somewhere, just not my somewhere. But, don't get me wrong, I wholly respect and hold in high regard the chopped Italian salad, a shaved summer vegetable salad, the rustic Greek, the elegant Caprese, and the classic Cobb (among others). Though, these, to me, are in an entree salad/side dish category all of their own. Nonetheless, when it comes to salad greens, I'm totally comfortable being called a purist snob.
I suppose, I could give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they've probably only had the run-of-the-mill super market stuff. So, in that case, by all means, load it up with peppers, nuts, berries, cheeses, carrots, meats, and thick creamy dressings. You have to cover up the nothing flavor of your "baby mixed greens". But, I swear to you, fresh farmer's market heads of the delicious leafy veggies are good on their own. Really good.
Outside of simple additions such as radicchio, watercress, endive, radishes, cucumbers, or tomatoes (only when they're good and in season…ok I'm snooty in this department too), honor thy lettuce.
Some sea salt, a simple vinaigrette, and a light tossing. Let it shine, don't bury it.
Simple Green Salad
What you'll need:
- A couple of fresh heads of lettuce*
- 1/2 cup of good olive oil
- 1/3 cup of good red wine vinegar**
- Sea salt
Wash and spin or dry the lettuce. Tear into big bite size pieces. Place in serving bowl. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Alternatively, pour olive oil and vinegar into a clean recycled jar, and shake. Add salt to taste. Pour the dressing over the lettuce and gently toss.
*Try different varieties while you're at the market. Discover for yourself which are your faves.
**Play around with the amount of olive oil to vinegar. Commonly, people use a 2:1 ratio. But, I like a particularly tangy vinaigrette. Furthermore, experiment with a white wine or champagne vinegar. Or, cut the vinegar in half and add a Tb. of dijon mustard.