Aim to use at least 2 types of leaves, one sweet, like a Cos, and one frilly and bitter, such as frisée, or a different colour, such as red radicchio. Optional extras include watercress or rocket, and lots of fresh chopped parsley, chives and other tender herbs. Crunchy vegetables like spring onion, cucumber, and green peppers are best left for mixed salads. A well-flavoured dressing is essential but don’t drench the salad. Use just enough to coat the leaves.
Separate the lettuce leaves and tear into bite-size pieces, placing in a colander. Discard any damaged outer ones. Wash well with other smaller leaves such as watercress and drain in a colander, shaking off any excess water.
Place the leaves on a clean tea towel, top with another towel and pat lightly to dry, or dry by spinning in a salad spinner. (If preparing ahead, store in the refrigerator in a polythene food bag to keep it crisp.)
Pour just enough vinaigrette to coat the leaves into the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add the leaves and toss well with your hands or with salad servers. Transfer to a serving bowl immediately.