There was only one kind of salad: iceberg lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato wedges, shredded carrot and bright orange French dressing from a bottle. That’s the salad recipe of the first half of my life. By the time I was in my twenties, I had discovered ranch dressing, and I ditched the neon French, and a few years later, I moved away from iceberg and onto a spring mix of greens, which I bought pre-washed in a bag.
I sometimes find “salad recipe” to be an oxymoron. A salad is greens with dressing. Dressing is oil with vinegar (or lemon). Everything else is just added on to that basic formula, and in my house, is mostly driven by what is actually in the house at the time the salad gets assembled.
Some of the tastiest salads I have had were nothing more than fresh greens, good olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. I recently had a green salad in a French restaurant that was memorable and delicious for no other reason than the greens were perfectly fresh and the simple dressing had precisely the exact amount of salt (which, it turns out was much more salt than I had been putting on my own salads at home).
There are lots of ways to expand upon a basic salad formula of greens with dressing. I like the approach of adding on fresh vegetables, chopped nuts and slices of fresh fruit—whatever kind of veggies, nuts and fruit that are in season and around the house.
Strapped for time, one of my favorite salads is one of the simplest: arugula, dried cranberries, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. I get pre-washed arugula out of a bag, sprinkle on the sweet cranberries and then drizzle on olive oil, lemon juice and salt that I have whisked together in a cup. I’d usually list the recipe next, but that was the recipe.