This simple Green Salad is an essential recipe you’ll turn to again and again! Serve this delicious Side Salad plain or customize it with all your favorite toppings … either way, it takes minutes to make, and you’re sure to love it!
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While I love an easy one dish dinner as much as the next person, sometimes you need a little something extra to balance a heavy dish, add veggies, or simply round out your meal.
It’s times like these that call for the perfect Green Salad! This easy recipe is one I reach for more frequently than any other. I always have the ingredients, plus it’s ready in minutes and so tasty … what could be better?
You can completely customize this salad by adding different toppings. I kept it super simple by adding some shaved parmesan. Anything goes though, and it’s the perfect way to clean out your fridge.
This is the ultimate Side Salad! Serve it with a busy weeknight dinner or make it for a party. Either way, it’s sure to be a hit at your dinner table.
Ready to dig in? You’ll find all the details below, so keep reading!
What exactly is a Green Salad? At its most basic, it’s a simple Tossed Salad composed of leafy greens mixed with salad dressing. What I love most about this versatile salad, is that you can stick to the basic, but delicious recipe, or you can add as many different toppings as you’d like.
Here’s what you’ll need for the recipe:
- Lettuce – I used mixed greens (a mesclun / spring mix) this time, but feel free to choose different types of fresh greens. Almost anything works, including butter lettuce, red or green leaf lettuce, romaine, baby kale, spinach, arugula, and more. You could even use iceberg. For a more interesting salad, combine a few different lettuces, or toss in some bitter greens, such as radicchio or endive.
- Dressing – Use my homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette (it takes minutes to make) or serve this recipe with your favorite dressing. You’ll find more ideas below.
- Toppings – I kept things super easy here and topped this everyday salad with shaved parmesan … so simple, but so tasty! However, the sky is the limit as far as toppings go. You can use everything from fresh veggies to crunchy croutons, and I’m sharing tons of ideas below.
Depending on the toppings you choose, this vegetarian salad can easily be vegan, gluten free, or dairy free, which makes it perfect for serving a crowd of picky eaters!
I paired this Mixed Green Salad recipe with a wonderful Red Wine Vinaigrette. This classic salad dressing couldn’t be easier to make, and it goes so well with the tender greens. Keep a jar in your fridge so you can enjoy this easy Side Salad all week long!
Of course, it would be scrumptious with my Lemon Olive Oil Dressing or Maple Vinaigrette too, or you could serve it with your favorite dressing, like Italian, ranch, blue cheese, French Vinaigrette, balsamic, thousand island, caesar … really, anything goes here!
Tip: If you do use a different dressing, keep in mind that vinaigrettes are best for tender greens (like the mesclun used here), whiles crisp greens (such as romaine) can stand up better to heavier creamy dressings.
You’ll Also Need
Get out your biggest bowl to mix everything together, along with a small jar (a mason jar works great) or bowl to prepare the dressing. If you make a lot of salads, I highly recommend purchasing a salad spinner! Using a salad spinner is the best way to clean heads of lettuce and to remove excess water that would otherwise dilute your dressing.
How to Make a Green Salad
Okay, let’s get started! You’ll find a detailed recipe card below, but here’s an overview of the steps:
- Make the dressing. Add the vinaigrette ingredients (olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper) to a mason jar (or a small bowl). Then shake (or whisk) everything together until combined. It should almost look creamy when done.
- Prep + dress the greens. If you’re starting with a head of lettuce, wash and dry it first, then tear or chop it into pieces. Add the greens, plus any other ingredients you’d like to mix in, to a large bowl. Then, drizzle a little of the dressing over the greens and gently toss to coat. You want to use just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the lettuce, so don’t dump it all in at once (you may have leftovers). Taste the salad, and add an extra pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.
- Add toppings. Serve your salad on a platter or divide it onto individual plates, then sprinkle it with the toppings of your choice.
Ta da … your lovely Tossed Green Salad is ready to eat! Wasn’t that easy?
This recipe is wonderful served as-is for a healthy Side Salad, but it’s also easy to customize depending on what you have in your fridge or pantry. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Vegetables – Load this salad up with your favorite veggies, like tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, radishes, zucchini / summer squash, celery, snap or snow peas, avocado, jicama, green onions, or edamame. Grilled Veggies, Roasted Vegetables, or Pickled Onions would also make delish toppings.
- Herbs – Toss in some fresh basil, flat leaf parsley, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, or tarragon. You can include stronger herbs, such as oregano, thyme, or rosemary too, but use a lighter hand.
- Cheese – A little cheese is the perfect way to add tons of flavor! I used shaved parmesan, but feta, goat cheese, blue cheese, shredded cheddar, gouda, swiss, or even grilled halloumi would work, too.
- Nuts / Seeds – Craving a little crunch? Sprinkle some almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamias, pepitas, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, hemp hearts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or other nuts and seeds over the top before serving.
- Fresh or Dried Fruit – Add an unexpected sweet-savory twist by mixing in fresh or dried fruit, like apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, peaches, apricots, raspberries, kiwi, melon, grapes, cranberries, cherries, mangos, and figs.
- Croutons – Crunchy croutons make pretty much any salad instantly better. Try my easy Homemade Croutons or my yummy Sourdough Croutons … both are super delicious and easy to make, too!
- Beans – Turn this salad into meal by adding hearty beans, such as chickpeas, lentils, black beans, or white beans.
- Hard Boiled Eggs – Eggs are another great way to include some protein. Serve sliced or quartered hard boiled eggs with a sprinkle of salt and pepper over the top.
- Olives – Briny olives will add tons of flavor. Try standard black olives, green olives, kalamata olives, or a more gourmet variety.
- Capers – Salty capers are another topping that gives a wonderful pop of flavor. Sprinkle them over the top so they don’t get lost in the bottom of your bowl.
Tips for a Better Salad
Does your salad game need a little help? These easy tips will help your perfect this basic recipe:
- Dry the lettuce. Any excess water that clings to your greens will dilute the dressing and the salad’s overall flavor. Using a salad spinner is the easiest and best way to remove water after washing lettuce. If you’re adding veggies, make sure to blot them dry after washing, too.
- Dress the greens just before serving. Always add your dressing / vinaigrette right before you plan to serve the salad. If you mix it in too soon, the lettuce will wilt and your salad will become soggy.
- Use less salad dressing. Dressings add tons of flavor, so it’s tempting to ladle it on. But less is more! As you toss the salad, add a little bit at a time. The greens should be lightly coated, not drowning.
- Mix everything together before serving. Unless you’re feeding a table full of picky eaters, don’t drizzle the dressing over the top. Mixing it into the salad will ensure that every last bite tastes its best.
- Season with salt and pepper. To make the flavors pop, taste your salad before serving, then add an extra pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.
- Use high-quality ingredients. The easiest way to create an irresistible salad is by using the best ingredients. Pair your Tossed Salad with a homemade dressing and flavorful toppings, like rich cheeses, salty olives, crunchy croutons and nuts, etc.
Wondering what to serve with this leafy Green Salad? It goes great with almost any meal! You’ll love it paired with soups, sandwiches, chili, pastas, pizzas, and so much more. It’s the perfect way to add an extra veggie to your dinner, especially on busy weeknights.
You can also easily turn it into a light meal! Add chickpeas (roasted are especially delicious!) or another protein, sprinkle in some cheese, and toss in any leftover veggies from your fridge, then serve it in your biggest bowl. Pair it with a slice of crusty artisan bread, Garlic Bread, or Beer Bread, and dinner is done!
This recipe is wonderful for parties and for serving a crowd, too! Just double, or even triple, the ingredients as needed.
While you can prep the dressing and most toppings ahead of time, this salad tastes best when served fresh. So wait to mix everything together until just before you’re ready to eat it.
Looking for more easy salad recipes? Try one of these next:
You can find lots more where that came from, too … check out all my salad recipes for more tasty ideas!
This simple Tossed Salad is easy to make, fun to customize with different toppings, and so delicious!
Servings: 4 to 6 people
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 8 cups mixed greens (lightly packed)
- toppings of your choices, such as cheese, croutons, veggies, etc.
Add olive oil, vinegar, dijon, salt, and pepper to a small jar with lid. Shake until well combined.
Taste, then adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.
Transfer greens (plus any ingredients you’d like to mix in) to a large bowl.
Drizzle salad lightly with dressing, then toss gently. Add more dressing while mixing, if needed, using just enough to lightly coat greens and veggies (you will have leftovers).
Taste salad, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.
Add toppings (if using), then serve immediately. Enjoy!
Lettuce – I used mixed greens (a mesclun / spring mix) this time, but different greens will also work. Try butter lettuce, red or green leaf lettuce, romaine, baby kale, spinach, arugula, even iceberg. You could also toss in some bitter greens, such as radicchio or endive.
Toppings – You can serve this salad plain (dressing + greens) or add whatever toppings you’d like. I kept things simple and added some shaved parmesan, but veggies, cheese, croutons, and more are welcome additions. Mix larger toppings in with the lettuce as you toss the salad, and sprinkle crunchy croutons or smaller toppings (like nuts) over the top.
More Tips – Check out all the info before this recipe for lots of helpful tips, plus tons of topping ideas!