Preparing a well-made green salad is one of those basics that every home cook must master. It couldn’t be simpler, but you have to do it right—and that means paying attention to details. Drying the lettuce makes all of the difference in a crisp salad.
1head of Boston or other soft lettuce
1head of red-leaf lettuce or radicchio Additional greens: arugula or watercress, stems removed (optional)
1½tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and/or other fresh herbs, such as tarragon or chives (optional)
To prepare greens: Trim off the cores and thick stems from the lettuces and greens. Separate the heads into leaves, discarding any bruised leaves. Wash the greens well, especially the arugula since it may be sandy. Drain well and dry thoroughly in a salad spinner (a good investment). Place the leaves between sheets of paper towels, roll up, place in plastic food storage bags, and refrigerate.
At serving time, tear the lettuces into bite-size pieces and place in a salad bowl with the herbs, if using.
For the dressing, drizzle the greens with the vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and finally, drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently with wooden spoons or forks just until the leaves are well coated with the dressing. Taste and correct the vinegar-oil balance and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately on salad plates or in bowls.