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Simple French Green Salad

This is less a recipe and more a technique. I encourage you to eyeball the quantities, which will not only be faster, but will help you to determine the right balance for your palate. You might like a bit more garlic, or more olive oil. Maybe throw in some herbs if you have them. Sometimes I drizzle in some honey if the mood strikes. Make it your own. This is the time to pull out the really good olive oil. Serve the salad simply as is, or augment it with toasted nuts, shaved raw vegetables (I’m partial to fennel and radishes), crumbled cheese, diced avocado, etc.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French green salad, simple green salad
Servings: 4 -6


  • ½ lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 spoonful Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head or bunch of salad greens (the freshest you can find), torn into bite-sized pieces if needed
  • Optional add-ins: toasted nuts, shaved or chopped vegetables, cheese, etc.


  • Squeeze the juice from ½ lemon into the bottom of a large salad bowl. Add the garlic, and rub it around the bowl. If you like a mild dressing, you can pull the clove out (I always leave it in). Whisk in a spoonful of Dijon mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil—you’re aiming for about twice as much oil as lemon juice. Dip a lettuce leaf into the dressing and give it a taste. Adjust the flavorings as desired.
  • Pile the lettuce leaves into the bowl. If you’re not eating the salad right away, stick the bowl in the fridge (without tossing). Right before serving, season the greens with salt and pepper, and toss them with the dressing.


Do Ahead: The salad (before it’s tossed) can be refrigerated for up to 2 hours. If you’re storing it for over an hour, lay a couple of damp paper towels over the top to prevent the greens from drying out. When you're ready to eat, toss the salad in the dressing to coat.