A Simple Spring Salad

A Simple Spring Salad Recipe

Perfect lettuce glows. I don't know a better way of describing it. Unfortunately, the glow doesn't last long. From the minute lettuce is picked, you're in a race against time and the elements. Tick, it is getting smashed by your other groceries. Tock, it's starting to wilt. Great lettuce emanates a color and vibrancy that makes you believe it is still alive. Chances are, by the time you encounter lettuce in your local grocery store the glow has long since faded. I hate to be too snobby, but you really have to go to the farmers' market to seek it out.

Once you get in the habit of enjoying salads made from just-picked baby lettuce, it becomes increasingly difficult (if not impossible) to reach for those bags of pre-washed lettuce or spinach. While not much of a recipe, I thought I'd share a simple spring salad I threw together for lunch the other day - peppered with black olives, oranges, and walnuts. My hope is that it might encourage you to seek out (or grow your own) perfect lettuce this year. I just planted a bunch of lettuce on my back patio, but I'll save that story for a separate post.

A few tips:

- Good shopping is the key to making a memorable salad. Buy the freshest lettuce you can find and completely baby it. Bruised lettuce is bad lettuce.

- Wash and dry your lettuce as soon as you get it home, this way you'll have it at the ready for days to come. I use a salad spinner to wash AND dry my lettuce. Place the lettuce in the basket of a salad spinner. Place the basket of lettuce in the bigger outer bowl and fill the entire thing with cold water. Gently swish the leaves around to loosen up any dirt or grit. Drain off the water by lifting the basket out and dumping out the dirty water. Repeat once or twice more. Now spin the lettuce dry. Place (along with a paper towel or two) in a bag in your refrigerator until ready to use.

- Don't cram your lettuce into the bag. Let it have some space. Think of your bags of lettuce as pillows - you don't want all the lettuce smashed together. Instead, aim to have it fluffed and even throughout its storage bag.

- Resist the urge to drown your salad, and keep in mind that you can always add, but never take away dressing. And I know you've heard it before, but it's important enough that I'll say it again - dress your salad just before you are going to serve it. Right that moment. Not five or ten or (god-forbid) twenty minutes ahead of time.

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Simple Spring Salad Recipe

1 and 1/2 orange, juice only
1/2 lemon, juice only
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon fine grain salt

4 big handfuls of salad greens, washed and dried
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
1/3 cup black olives, (the wrinkly, oily ones), pitted

In a medium bowl whisk together the juice of 1/2 orange, lemon juice, most of the red onion, olive oil, and salt. Whisk together until emulsified, taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed.

Peel the remaining orange and cut into segments, removing any seeds you might encounter. Set aside.

When you're ready to serve, place the salad greens in a large bowl. Toss very gently with a generous splash of the dressing. Add the orange segments and walnuts. Give another toss. Taste and decide if you need to add more dressing, if needed, add a bit more at a time, giving a good toss between additions. Make sure the nuts and citrus haven't all gone to the bottom, help them back up to the top if needed. Serve salad topped with the remaining red onion and olives.

Serves 4.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

Simple is often the hardest to do well, and the best! That salad looks divine.

Chocolate shavings

simplicity at its best. I love your recipes, they are full of life. I recently made the split peas soup, it was fantastic. Thanks very much.

cdecocina

2 things: it's actually even better to fill the outer bowl of the salad spinner with water FIRST and then set the basket inside, wash the lettuce and spin it dry--the running water from the faucet can bruise your lettuce (tricked learned from my favorite professional chef). the second is that i bought this gadget that's kind of a big round plastic ball that stores lettuce that's been washed in the fridge. it really keeps the greens fresh longer--i'm terrible with the plastic bag storage, i just can't get it to work

toasterjimmy

For all the people who say they wrap their washed lettuce in newspaper--doesn't that defeat the purpose of washing it in the first place? if grimy, black newsprint rubs off so easily on dry fingertips, isn't this just asking for ink-stained, dirty lettuce and pools of inky water in your plastic bag? i feel as though i'm missing something about how the newspaper+water+lettuce works.

curious about ink

As a devoted daily salad-eater, I couldn't agree more regarding the paramount importance of fresh, vibrant lettuce. Thought I would mention, however, that I try to avoid storing anything in disposable plastic bags (bound for land-fill), and my solution is to store the lettuce in the spinner in the fridge. If you have a good spinner, the lid will lock on tight enough to keep your greens fresh for a few days, once they are clean and dry. Then lunch can just be grabbing a few handfuls, adding toppings and dressing and you're set. It does take up some room in the fridge, but I'm all too happy to have the lettuce crowd out other, less delicious and healthful items. Thanks for the post!

Erika

That salad simply looks like spring! It makes me anxious for the first baby greens at the local market!

Deborah Dowd

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