It doesn’t get any simpler than this green salad – or tastier, for that matter.
The French Bistro Salad basically looks like a serving of lettuce and it seems almost silly to share a precise recipe with you because it’s just so simple. But mastering the art of a simple green salad might be just the skill you need to provide a bright flavor to your plate and impress your friends.
Is lettuce really worth it nutrition-wise?
Lettuce is well known for being a low calorie food and you’re probably wondering if there’s even enough nutritional value in lettuce to justify serving a salad composed of only leaves. While including additional vegetables in your meal will definitely round out your nutrient intake, don’t count lettuce out just yet – choose Romaine, Red Leaf, or Green Leaf lettuce for some awesome perks:
- Water: Lettuce is a high water food (the crispier the better) hydrating you with every bite.
- Vitamin A: This vitamin is required to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin, and is also essential for vision.
- Vitamin K: Supports bone health by aiding the absorption of vitamin D. It also has an established role in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage to the brain.
- Folate: Folates are co-factors in the enzyme metabolism required for DNA synthesis and play a vital role in prevention of neural tube defects during pregnancy.
- Molybdenum: Molybdenum is a trace mineral that plays a role in many functions, including protection against cancer, enzyme production, and reducing inflammation.
The trick to this salad is in the lettuce. I know pre-washed, boxed salad greens are so easy, but a big, leafy head of fresh lettuce will make all the difference in this recipe. Look for a red or green-leaf lettuce with bright, crispy leaves. I don’t use a salad spinner (because there’s no extra space in my kitchen!) so I wash the leaves and lay them flat on a towel to dry while I prep the rest of my meal.
For the best texture, separate the leafy portions from the central rib and discard, keeping only the leafy parts for the salad. Tear the leafy parts into large, bite-sized pieces.
The salad dressing can be made in advance, but don’t dress the salad until the last minute to keep the leaves from wilting. This vinaigrette recipe can be adapted to your personal taste and ingredients. A little extra salt will cut the acid, honey will balance tartness, and olive oil will mellow the flavor. To sample the dressing, dip a leaf into the oil mixture to get the most accurate flavor.
I love serving this salad with roasts and cooked vegetables because it adds a bright, acidic flavor to the plate, breaking up savory or salty dishes without adding too many new flavors. It’s also delicious paired with eggs for a very French breakfast.
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- 1 head of red or green leaf lettuce, washed
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
- 1 tsp honey
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- After lettuce is washed and dried, tear the leafy parts away from the central rib and place leaves in a salad bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, shallot, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.
- Toss salad with dressing just before serving.