This salad started off as kind of challenge I had set for myself. Years ago, we were invited to a gathering,
and I was asked if I could bring a green salad. My eyes kind of glazed over. Green salad. That’s it? It seemed like such a boring dish to prepare and bring along. So I mulled over the concept, and decided, “If she wants a green salad, she’s getting a GREEN salad.” I was going to try and create a salad that was entirely shades of green.
Obviously the possibilities are endless. Green has so many variations: chartreuse, kelly, emerald, loden, khaki, racing car green, grass, etc. Green is really the signature colour of salad, and well, pretty much anything that grows! Somewhere along the way, every plant has something green hued, chlorophyll filled, going on. Except maybe potatoes. You all are probably thinking of all sorts of other fruits or vegetables that have nothing green going on. Please share with us!
This is the base of the salad. Green leaves. Lettuces, spinach, kale, baby arugula, dandelion, endive, frisée, even shredded brussels sprouts are being used as the canvases for salads these days. Then there are the not so traditional leaves: herbs. Flat leaf parsley, mint, dill, basil, tarragon can all be added to salads exactly as they are, and will all add their own unique flavours. When tearing or cutting greens for a salad, please don’t leave them too large. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to spear a piece of salad with a fork, only to find that the piece captured would need to be folded into thirds before it can even fit into my mouth! Especially in a restaurant! No chance of looking elegant with a huge piece of lettuce that you’re trying to delicately wedge into your mouth! Sure, I could use a knife, and I do when needed, but a salad shouldn’t require a knife!! Who is with me?! What is it with huge pieces of lettuce? Really? Eating a salad should be a pleasant experience, not one requiring a crane, jaws of life, or a pitchfork.
What about the vegetable additions? Green bell or cubanelle peppers, scallions, zucchini, celery, cucumber, fennel, sugar snap peas, the list goes on. And they all would work great in this salad. Obviously I may not use them all at the same time, but the options are there!
What about some fun additions? Green grapes, artichoke hearts, Granny Smith apples, kiwi slices? Sure, why not?!
So yes, I created a salad that was entirely shades of green. Seeing that green is my favourite colour, I was quite happy with the outcome. It left me smiling, and content in knowing that it wasn’t just a boring leafy salad. This has now become somewhat of a signature salad over here. It’s so simple to prepare, and can really be adapted to whatever the season is sharing with us.
I’m not one for sweet and weird additions to salads. I love sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, etc. Just not in a salad. Neither does Jim. I like a salad to feel a bit more savoury than desert-y. While walnuts or pecans may have their place in a simple beet and goat cheese salad, I won’t go ahead and throw them in every salad.
Even my dressing for this type of salad is more savoury than sweet. I’ve already shared my Master Vinaigrette with you guys. It is so versatile, but especially with cole slaws and the more Asian type salads, or salads composed of citrus etc. The vinaigrette I’m sharing today, is my go-to green salad dressing. It can also be used over certain savoury vegetables that you’ve steamed or braised. I’ll be sharing the recipe for Braised Leeks and Burrata soon, and this is the dressing for that dish!
This is a typical French classic vinaigrette. The only changes I made to it when working on it through the years, is switching up the sherry vinegar for champagne vinegar. It is smoother, lighter, making it perfect for gentle herbs and leaves, as it’s tang won’t overpower those lighter ingredients. If you can’t find champagne vinegar, (but I really hope you will try!) then use a good quality white wine vinegar. Not a white balsamic- this is far too sweet and overpowering. I also do add two types of mustard to this vinaigrette: dijon and a grainy mustard. This is where the oomph comes from. You can cut back on the mustards, if so inclined, but they really add depth and presence.
The rest of the vinaigrette is pretty basic: shallots, thyme, garlic, olive oil, water, sugar and salt and pepper. The recipe makes roughly one cup, so you’ll get enough for quite a few salads. It keeps great in the fridge. Just remember to take it out a good half hour before you need it, so that the oil can warm up again, and it will emulsify when shaking.
Having mentioned about bringing the dressing out to room temperature, I’ll share my tip for preparing a salad in advance here as well. Cut or tear everything you will be using in your salad. Place the heaviest ingredients into a large bowl first. Keep layering, going lighter and lighter in weight, until only the herbs and light greens are on top. Take a tea towel or several pieces of paper towel and run them under cold water. Wring out the excess water and gently drape this over the salad fixings in the bowl. Place the bowl in the fridge till you are ready to serve. When you take it out of the fridge everything will be chilled and crisp, no wilting going on here! This way you can have it ready to go if company is coming over, and you won’t have the mess on the counter to clean when you really would rather be having a martini with them! In fact, I have left a salad bowl this way overnight in the fridge and it was great the next day! Of course, you can’t do this with a dressed salad. Naturally, you can also cut all the heartier veggies the morning of, and store in separate containers. Then your assembly will also be cut down to a minimum at the last moment.
So, if you only need one salad recipe, and one dressing recipe, I know you’ve found it here! There is still room for personal expression as you create it, but it makes the perfect side to any meal. The fact that it is a green salad means that it won’t be an imposing dish on the table. It is light and flavourful, and refreshing, which is what a salad should be. It won’t compete with the rest of the dinner. In fact, for a heavy meal, say a roast dinner or lasagna, this is the salad that you want to have at the table. It is the perfect contrast to all the richness of everything else.
Having called this salad a recipe, I will be honest, it is really only a method! I will leave the exact amounts of salad components to you. You know how many you want to feed, which items are available when you go shopping, and bottom line, which ingredients you like more! So use this as a guideline. Of course, the dressing is an exact recipe!
*Having made the point that this is truly a green hued salad, I hope you don’t mind that I added blueberries to the photos of mine at the bottom! I was preparing the salad for Earth Day 2018. It just seemed right that amongst all the green, there should be some blue as well. We have such a jewel of a planet, which is really more blue than green. It is such a beautifully designed home for us, that it so sad when we see it abused and misused. We each may play only a small part, but whatever we can do is truly a sign of the respect we have for our beautiful home.
My goal this year, is not only to cut back on the amount of plastics we use, (we all know the reasons, right?) but also to be more aware of food waste. We have it so easy here in North America or Western Europe etc. Food is at an abundance, we are presented with an vast array of choices every time we visit the grocery store. Sometimes our eyes are understandably taken in, and we bring home more than we truly need. I am guilty of this- my imagination gets inspired by all the fresh produce in new colours and shapes. But really, there are only two of us here in our condo, there is only so much we can eat in a week. So I really want to be more aware of what is already in our fridge and cupboards before adding to the abundance. It may seem like a small contribution, but food waste here in Canada is ridiculous. Just thought I’d share 🙂 Hope you didn’t mind.
All Things Green and Herb Salad, with Champagne and Mustard Vinaigrette
Pretty well any green vegetable can be used in this salad. With a base of greens and herbs, the toppings are up to you! This champagne vinaigrette will quickly become your go-to dressing for salads and braised vegetables alike. Enjoy!
- Greens such as Frisée Lamb's lettuce, Cress, Micro greens, Endive, Boston Lettuce, Little Gems or Romaine
- Herbs such as Flat leaf Parsley Tarragon, Mint leaves, Dill leaves, Basil leaves
- Toppings such as Cubanelle Peppers Celery, Fennel, Scallions, Zucchini, Cucumber, Artichoke hearts, Kiwi slices, Green grapes, Green Apple
- 2 large shallots peeled and minced finely
- 1 tsp fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove finely grated or minced
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar can be substituted with white wine or sherry vinegar
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp grainy mustard
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
For greens that are purchased cleaned already, it is actually not advised to clean them again.
Clean any greens that need it in water, rinse or spin, and dry in tea towels. Tear into bite size pieces (not too large please!)
Clean and Dry whatever ingredients you are choosing to use. Chop into pleasant bite size pieces (nothing more annoying that pieces that are just too large!)
Place the heavier items into a large bowl first. Layer until the lightest items are on top.
Take a tea towel or several sheets of paper towel and run under cold water. Squeeze out all excess water and drape gently over the entire bowl. This can now be stored in the fridge till needed. The veggies will all be crisp and ready to go, with no wilting occurring!
If made in advance, take the vinaigrette out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to dress your salad.
When ready to serve, shake or whisk up the dressing and drizzle over the salad and toss gently.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk till they are well combined. Alternatively, place them all into a mason jar, seal and then shake vigorously till combined. Adjust salt and pepper if desired
Store in the fridge for up to a month.
Vinaigrette inspired by Buvette cookbook by Jody Williams