How to Build the Perfect Green Salad

How to Build the Perfect Green Salad

Food & Wine

A classic green salad—one featuring crisp lettuces and raw seasonal vegetables tossed with a barely-there vinaigrette—elevates any meal. The trick to serving a properly dressed, not wilting salad is in the technique you use to build it, starting with the dressing, preferably using a large wooden salad bowl. (We’re partial to this satiny black walnut one from Andrew Pearce, but any wooden bowl broad enough to prevent flyaway leaves will do.) Begin with the acids: For balance, use at least two vinegars or citrus juices. Add a drizzle of honey or pinch of sugar—the sweetness will help balance the acids’ bite. Finally, rapidly incorporate the oil to form an emulsion. For best flavor, use a mix, such as grapeseed plus a good olive oil or a nut oil, such as walnut. A properly emulsified vinaigrette will suspend the acids and seasonings in the oil, coating each lettuce leaf without weighing it down. Toss just before serving using the trick in step 5.

Get the full recipe for our simple green salad here, and assemble it by following these simple steps:

1. Blend Acids

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. Season

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

3. Emulsify

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. Dress Vegetables

Add sliced hard vegetables such as radishes and carrots to bowl with dressing; toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with more vinegar, lemon juice, or salt.

5. Add Greens

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

6. Toss

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.


This article was written by Mary-Frances Heck from Food & Wine and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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