- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- Serves 6
"Don’t listen to chefs who say you have to learn how to emulsify a vinaigrette perfectly to be a good cook. In The River Café Cookbook, Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray dressed all their green salads year-round in straight lemon juice and olive oil. You can do this as casually as squeezing the lemon half and shaking the oil right over your plate of baby arugula, as I do for my small family almost every night. Or, when feeding more people, you can follow the recipe below to pre-squeeze and tweak your ratios earlier in the game.
This recipe is also here to say that leaves alone can be just as captivating as the confetti of a chopped salad, if you aim for lettuces that are in season and intensely flavored. Rogers and Gray included their list of dream summer (estiva in Italian) and winter (invernale) greens below. Pick up a few at the farmers market and follow the washing and storage tricks on page 185—they’ll brighten your dinners all week."
Excerpted from Simply Genius: Recipes for Beginners, Busy Cooks & Curious People (Ten Speed Press, September 27, 2022).
- Summer Greens or Winter Greens
(1.9L) dandelion, arugula, radicchio, Belgian endive, young spinach, and lamb’s lettuce or any bitter green (or any combination)
- Oil & Lemon Dressing
(90ml) extra-virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Prep the salad greens: Pick over the leaves, pulling out any that are wilted or yellowing and discarding them in the compost. For any lettuces with a core, such as radicchio, endive, or escarole, trim away the cores with a chef’s knife on a large cutting board. Tear or cut any large leaves into reasonably bite-size pieces. Wash and dry the leaves well.
- Make the dressing: In a Mason jar or other lidded container, combine the olive oil and lemon juice, plus a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Seal the jar tightly with the lid, shake it well, and immediately dip a lettuce leaf in to taste. If you’d like it brighter, add lemon juice; mellower, add more olive oil; and add salt and pepper until you like it.
- Just before serving, toss the salad: Mix all the leaves together in a large bowl. Give the dressing a shake, then pour over less dressing than you think you’ll need. Toss the salad lightly using tongs, a large fork and spoon, or your (clean) hands, and taste a leaf. If you’d like, add a little more dressing, toss, and taste again. Serve right away.
- Make ahead and store: If you have room in the fridge, keep extra greens in the closed salad spinner with a little water in the bottom—they’ll last a week or more. Otherwise, you can refrigerate the clean greens wrapped in a clean, dry towel in a sealed container for about 3 days. Store any leftover dressing sealed in the Mason jar in the refrigerator for a few days and let it come back to room temperature before using, adding a squeeze of lemon to perk it up, if needed.