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A Genius, Super-Refreshing Green Salad with 2 Curious Secret Ingredients

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A simple green salad—even for us serious vegetable advocates—isn’t usually the thing that compels you to lunge for seconds. It’s not, say, brown butter butternut rolls or bacon gravy. But with this green salad, two dynamite secret ingredients nestled in its leaves, I’ve seen some lunges.

Small Oven's Green Salad with Preserved Lemon and Candied Ginger
Small Oven's Green Salad with Preserved Lemon and Candied Ginger

The recipe comes from Small Oven, a lovely little bakery in Easthampton, Massachusetts near my brother’s home. The bakery’s founders Amanda Milazzo (the “caker,” as she says) and Julie Copoulos (the baker) put as much care into their lunch menu as they do their pastries and flawlessly chewy-crusty breads. (And because many dishes unexpectedly come with a generous slab of fresh toast, I eat about half a loaf every time I go.)

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This salad is mostly a big pile of leafy greens that taste far more exciting than they appear they will (thus, the lunges). Its sneaky pep comes from two surprising pantry goods you don’t normally see offered as mix-ins at the salad bar: preserved lemon rind and candied ginger.

They might sound curious together to you—they did to me—but these two feisty ingredients, once you’ve tried them, make perfect sense together. The salty, funky punch of preserved lemon is a match well-suited for candied ginger’s fiery, spicy-sweet chew. It’s one of those hits-all-the-notes combinations that doesn’t let you grow tired and keeps tugging you back, like a salted caramel cookie or good barbecue chips or spicy michelada with lots of lime.

“It's the perfect marriage of salty and sweet,” Milazzo and Copoulos wrote to me. “As bakers who favor savory treats, we have a lot of fun balancing both our confections and our lunch menu.” At lunch, they serve it with a particularly handsome slice of avocado toast, but you can leave that off if you’re serving with a side of turkey-everything else-bacon gravy instead.

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There’s a very good chance that you have both of these ingredients kicking around your pantry, bought from some long-gone tagine or molasses cookie. But if not, I’d recommend calling your guests ahead as an early bonding moment—I bet someone does, and has been looking for an excuse to use them.

A winning formula for salad that will energize—and not bore—you will be a boon year-round. But during holiday feasts (and when in recovery mode from holiday feasts) it’s an especially welcome invigorator—perhaps most of all because it won’t taste like any green salad anyone’s had before.

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Small Oven's Green Salad with Preserved Lemon and Candied Ginger

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Serves 4 to 6, with leftover dressing for more salads

Preserved Lemon & Candied Ginger Salad

  • 14 ounces high-quality salad greens (Small Oven uses a baby mix from Queen’s Greens in north Amherst)
  • 4 tablespoons minced preserved lemon rind
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • 12 large basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 4 ounces grana padano or Parmesan cheese, shaved into thin strips on a mandoline or with a potato peeler
  • Thyme Vinaigrette from below, to taste
  • Thick-cut, salted olive oil toast and avocado, to serve (optional)

Thyme Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup neutral oil (like grapeseed)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Leaves from 8 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
Go to Recipe

Photos by Mark Weinberg

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker!
Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker!