I’d eaten at Tim’s approximately two times when I started to sense a theme. When that guy makes a salad, he makes it in a very particular way.
Maybe everybody does this?
Over the following years and months, I’ve eaten this same basic salad with him alongside grilled cheese sandwiches, at fancy dinners we’ve thrown for friends, during Sunday night barbecues (when I’m not eating my Sunday Salad), on lazy weeknights, and in many spaces and at various times in between.
I’ve eaten it so many times with him that it’s truly become our salad, the one we always make, the fallback, the standby, the one we’re calling The House Salad, with cucumbers and tomatoes.
The thing I like about calling this recipe The House Salad is that it takes what some might consider a bit of a repetitive rut and turns it into a tradition.
I mean, when you see “house salad” on a menu, you don’t think lame, you think specialty (or at least I do).
It’s a trusted, tested recipe, the specialty of the house, the sort of thing you can count on to work each time.
In a world that prizes the new and the flashy, I suppose it’s our tendency to overlook anything we have in ready supply: daylight, gasoline, convenient grocery stores, time with our spouses or friends, everyday recipes, sleep.
But while of course there’s nothing wrong with finding pleasure in the extraordinary, finding pleasure in the regular is also no small thing. I mean, most of our lives are made up of the everyday.
If we can find joy in those small moments, those standbys, just imagine how much richer our lives might be.Print
Nothing says weeknight staple like a go-to salad. These simply dressed greens are loaded with sweet cherry tomatoes and crunchy sprouts.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
- 1 small head red or green butter lettuce, gently torn into bite-sized pieces (5.5 oz/4 cups packed)
- 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced seedless cucumber (about 1/2 small)
- 1/2 cup broccoli sprouts (or alfalfa sprouts)
- In the bottom of a large salad bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sprouts, and toss to combine. Season to taste for additional salt, and then divide among bowls. Garnish with additional freshly cracked pepper if desired before serving.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: No-cook
- Cuisine: Side Dishes
Keywords: house salad, balsamic vinegar, mustard, butter lettuce, tomato, cucumber
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Rinse the Lettuce and Chop the Cucumbers, Tomatoes, and Garlic
Separate and rinse the lettuce leaves well to remove any dirt. Dry in a salad spinner to make sure your salad doesn’t become watered down with excess liquid. Gently tear into bite-size pieces.
Rinse the cucumber and tomatoes. Halve any smaller cherry tomatoes and slice the rest into thin rounds with a sharp knife and sturdy cutting board. Slice the cucumber into very thin rounds, and mince the garlic.
Step 2 – Make the Vinaigrette
You can also prepare the vinaigrette in a separate bowl or container, and coat to your liking.
Step 3 – Add the Veggies to the Bowl and Toss to Combine
Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sprouts to the bowl and toss to combine, using tongs or your hands. Toss from the bottom of the bowl up, to make sure all of the veggies are lightly coated in the dressing.
Season to taste for additional salt, and then divide among bowls. Garnish with additional freshly cracked pepper if desired before serving.
Give Your Greens Some Life
Having a colorful, go-to salad you can throw together in minutes means never having to scramble for a side dish again.
No cucumbers or juicy tomatoes laying around? No worries! The best part about a “house salad” is being able to personalize your bowl – based on what’s in your kitchen, and your own favorite specialties.
Customize your glorious greens with whatever components make your stomach sing. Well, or whatever’s in your fridge. And if you don’t even have lettuce, no worries. Take a page out of the book of our Simple Tomato and Cucumber Salad, and make a delicious side dish with absolutely no greens.
Need even more salad inspiration? Try these healthy little numbers next:
- Arugula Dijon Salad with Figs, Pistachios, and Pea Shoots
- Einkorn Salad with Radicchio and Walnuts
- Simple Kale Salad with Garlic, Lemon, and Pecorino
What other simple vinaigrettes do you like to whisk up in your kitchen? Asian-inspired with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar? Warm, cozy flavors like orange zest and maple? Share your must-have mixes in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 24, 2013. Last updated April 15, 2020. With additional writing and editing by Fanny Slater and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.