Simple Greens with Any Vinegar-ette
By Molly Baz
5 ounces tender lettuces, such as Boston, Bibb, and/or arugula
1 small shallot
1 cup picked tender herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, mint,
basil, dill, tarragon, and/or chives
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey, maple syrup, or sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt, for serving
1. Do some prep:
✦ If using whole heads of lettuce, separate the leaves and discard the knobby root ends. Submerge the lettuces in cold water and swoosh them around to release any grit. Drain and spin with a salad spinner until VERY dry.* ✦ Finely chop half of a shallot. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Never chopped a shallot before? I can help you with that.
2. Make the dressing:
✦ To the shallot, add 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon honey, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, a few good cranks of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons vinegar, whisking to combine. Slowly drizzle in ¼ cup olive oil, whisking constantly until the dressing is emulsified.**
✦ Taste and adjust the dressing if needed; it should taste zippy and zingy but also balanced with a touch of sweetness and some bite from the mustard and black pepper. Transfer half of the dressing to a small bowl, leaving the rest behind.***
Add the lettuces and herbs to the bowl and use your hands to very gently fold to coat them with the dressing. Now you can add that remaining dressing as you see fit; maybe it needs just a smidge, maybe it needs all of it—you decide. Season the salad with flaky sea salt and fold once more to disperse. Serve immediately.
*Water is the enemy of a crisp, perky salad, and it also repels olive oil, which means if there’s any water left behind, your salad dressing won’t cling to the leaves, and that would be a total bummer.
**“Emulsified” is just a fancy term for thick and creamy with no signs of oil and vinegar separation. A properly emulsified dressing has a totally different mouthfeel than one that is “broken,” or not properly emulsified. The latter feels oily on your palate, not smooth and creamy.
***This is a safety against overdressed lettuces, because as we all know, you can always add dressing, but you can’t take it away. You’ll likely use the rest, but this is just best practice for dainty lettuces
“Reprinted from Cook This Book. Copyright © 2021 by Molly Baz. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Taylor Peden and Jen Munk. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.”