The Simple Green Salad
Recipe, words & images by Harriet Davidson
The simple green salad, a dish I want to see on almost every dinner table I sit at, whether it be at home or out and about. It wasn’t until recently while reading Fanny Singer’s book, Always Home, where she dedicates an entire chapter (and rightly so) to the green salad that I realised the beauty in this dish and what a crucial role it plays in my daily culinary adventures. The beauty of it is in its simplicity, made up of pantry staples, sans the green leaves of course, which if you’re lucky and you’ve gotten your act together, you’ll have growing in your garden. It’s often the most talked about dish around a dinner table that I fill. There’s something about the bitter greens, like the bitterness in an after-dinner Amaro, that when you’re feeling wildly full, helps you to digest. Yes, I’m suggesting eating more to make you feel like you’ve eaten less.
Get your greens from your local farmer’s market - I usually get Kurrawong Organics mixed leaves which, if you’re in Sydney, you can get at the Saturday morning markets at Carriageworks, Potts Point or Bondi. Take them home and plunge them into a big bowl of ice-cold water. Let them sit and the dirt settle at the bottom of the bowl before carefully picking the leaves up out of the water and into a colander. Place them in a tea towel and gently dry them before popping them in the fridge to stay nice and cold for when you’re salad ready.
The dressing is just as important as having beautiful leaves. I make this dressing a few times a week, at least, for all sorts of salads but it’s lovely here because you can really taste the balance of the salty and acidic with the sweet. Play around and find the balance that’s just right for you.
I eat this all year round but it’s particularly seductive during these warm, summer months where nights are balmy and days are often too hot to feel like cooking, or eating. With a roast chicken and crunchy potatoes, or grilled sardines, or simply on its own, this has to be one my favourite dishes to eat and to serve. I hope this zesty, zingy, fresh, crunchy, cold bowl brings you as much satisfaction as it does me.
1/2 cup picked herbs - basil, parsley and dill are all great
1 garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet (optional but highly recommended)
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp seeded mustard
While your leaves sit in the fridge getting nice and cold, make your dressing.
Drag out your mortar and pestle and place your peeled garlic clove with a pinch of salt in the mortar. Using the pestle, break down the garlic to form a paste until fragrant before adding in the anchovy fillet and grinding further.
Add the vinegar and lemon juice and let sit for ten minutes or so to break down the garlic. Add in the remaining ingredients and use a fork to whisk the dressing together.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, adjusting any of the other ingredients to your liking if need be (I’m a vinegar fiend so always up the amount).
This is a highly controversial instruction, but I like to dress my salads a little while before putting it on the table but this, I believe, is deeply personal so feel it out as you embark on your green salad adventure. One of those large aluminium bowls is life-changing here. I’ll place the leaves with the herbs in the bowl and toss to mix them through before slowly drizzling the dressing over the beauties. Use your hands to gently toss to cover the leaves before popping the salad into your serving bowl.