Bonus: It is only three ingredients.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
March 11, 2020

Pictured Recipe: Basic Green Salad with Vinaigrette

Unfortunately the idea of a side salad doesn't usually excite most people. I blame the lame model of iceberg lettuce with store bought dressing: lacking flavor, nutrition and craveability. But these three easy steps will change your salad game, and are Healthy Cooking How-To's I think everyone should know. Bonus: There are also only three ingredients.

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Step One: The Greens

You can get creative with this step, but I urge you: Don't skimp on the quality here. A salad is only as good as the greens you use. As with most produce, fresh greens that are locally sources and seasonal typically have more flavor than out of season greens shipped from far away. Personally, I try to make most of the salad's flavor come from the greens themselves. To do this, skip iceberg lettuce or plain romaine (or save them for salads in which there are a lot of other flavorful ingredients). I typically use a mild lettuce mix (mesclun is my personal favorite, but bibb lettuce and endives work well too) as well as something bolder, like spicy greens (examples include arugula, radicchio, mustard greens) or fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill and chives. My salads are equal parts mild greens and flavorful greens. This may be more herbs that you are used to using, but trust me it is worth it for the flavor.

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Step Two: The Dressing

You can make this step as complicated or nuanced as you want; we have plenty of homemade salad dressing recipes for inspiration. However, I prefer to keep it simple most of the time with only two ingredients: lemon juice and olive oil. While a classic dressing typically calls for a larger ratio of oil to acid, I like to use equal parts lemon juice and olive oil mixed together, then toss it into the mixed greens for additional bright flavor. To finish it off, I add a pinch or two of flaky sea salt, toss the salad again and voila you're done!

Step Three: Enjoy

This salad formula is so packed with flavor that people will be shocked at how simple it is to make. Once I discovered how unfussy and delicious it could be to enjoy fresh greens, I vowed to never spend money on store bought dressing again. Pair your salad with a hearty pasta main dish recipe or top it with our delicious Baked Lemon-Pepper Chicken for a healthy meal that's on the table in minutes. For more cooking hacks, tips and tricks, check out Ask The Test Kitchen.

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