The shallot vinaigrette is the hallmark of this crisp salad, which is versatile enough to pair with nearly any meal and easy enough to enjoy every day. Though perfectly divine with fresh greens alone, you may add your favorite salad mix-ins, from crumbled blue cheese and halved cherry tomatoes to slivered red onion, thinly sliced cucumbers, and chopped avocado.
In the early days of quarantine, I had the distinct pleasure of testing recipes for To the Last Bite, a newly published cookbook by Alexis deBoschnek. At the time, so many of us were avoiding frequent grocery runs, and accordingly, my blog recipes were focused on pantry staples.
The crisp, colorful ingredients called for in Alexis’s recipes provided a welcome counterpoint to my focus at the time while speaking to my inner sensibilities—allowing fresh, quality ingredients to shine in deliciously uncomplicated ways. And not wasting anything!
Alexis grew up in the idyllic setting of the Catskill Mountains, whose rolling hills are abundant in livestock and sprawling farms that, in summer, trail green as far as the eye can see. Her mother was a master gardener who lived sustainably before the term was coined, and she taught Alexis how to forage for mushrooms and fly fish, how to grow vegetables, and most importantly, how good those vegetables could taste.
Growing up with two European parents also meant eating salad at the end of every meal–never before or during as Alexis notes. The following salad is typical of those days, and it is one that I have returned to countless times since testing recipes for Alexis’ cookbook.
We enjoy the salad as the main vegetable on our plate and often adorn the greens with a simple protein to transform them into a satisfying entrée.
The secret is the vinaigrette, which allows greens alone to shine. And while I have begun adding ingredients like tomatoes, blue cheese, and occasionally avocado, the beauty is that fresh greens alone are enough.
Alexis’ go-to for the vinaigrette is champagne vinegar. Over time, I’ve begun reaching for sherry vinegar. The former is a touch sweeter, the latter punchier. You could use white wine vinegar. None will disappoint.
Also of note, Alexis relies on minced shallot instead of garlic, which she sprinkles with salt and lets sit for 10 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. This further mellows the flavor–and those tiny specks are such a treat that I seem to use increasingly more each time I prepare the vinaigrette.
I get two large salads or four small out of a single batch of the dressing. You may double the batch if desired, as it will keep in the fridge for a week or more. Simply allow it to come to room temperature and give the jar a good shake.
With a batch on hand, the simple salad can be ready in mere minutes. And like Alexis’s family and now mine, you may find yourself reaching for this salad every day.
How much vinaigrette should I use?
As a general rule, I use about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette for every 3 cups of greens. This amount lightly coats the greens without weighing them down. With this in mind, one batch of the vinaigrette will be enough to dress two large (4 serving) or four smaller (2 serving) salads.