You Should Be Adding Fresh Herbs to Your Salads

September 28, 2015

They're just as important than lettuce.

I stand in front of the herb table at the farmers market every week for such a long time—taking giant inhales of funky fresh herb-smell and not moving at all—that the guy working the cash register has a brand of side-eye reserved just for me. Are you going to buy something, weird girl? he wonders. Or just sniff the air around my wares? I usually have enough resolve to look him dead in the face and mentally relay the Jimmy John’s slogan, which I feel is apt for the scenario: FREE SMELLS. As in: Let me ogle your basil in peace.

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Fresh herbs feel super special to me, like they have to be purchased with purpose and not just to appease my nose/the guy behind the table. I’m thrilled if a recipe I’ve scouted calls for them, because otherwise those long delightful inhales at the market are as far as our relationship goes. At least, that was true until I realized you could put them in a salad. DUH. What a fool I’d been overlooking the fragrant, tender, leafy stuff of my dreams as a lettuce accouterment.

Now no plan is necessary, and if a few miscellaneous bunches strike my fancy or the herb guy is being particularly snarky, I throw down for them and head straight to Salad Town. The unique tastes of each herb will more than carry you in the flavor department, so dress the thing with a simple lemon juice and olive oil tag team, throw on some seeds for crunch, and you’re good to go. 

Herb and Seed Salad

Serves 3 as a side

3 heads Little Gem lettuce, rough ends lopped off, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced chives
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
Fresh ground pepper
Flaky sea salt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Alpha Smoot and James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Karleen Whitley
    Karleen Whitley
  • WHB
A fan of female driven comedies, a good beat, your hair today, and making foods for friends.


Karleen W. June 25, 2018
WHB September 28, 2015
Also check out Heidi Swanson's cilantro salad with shallot oil dressing on her site!