BY JACQUELYN DUGGAN
Recently I’ve decided that one of my favorite dishes to bring to a cookout or potluck party is what I’ve lovingly coined “Friendship Salad.”
Why the name? A couple of months ago, we were invited to a last-minute cookout on a surprisingly beautiful early-spring Saturday. All I had on hand were several last bits of random vegetables. So rather than rushing out to the store to put something together, I got crafty and made a lovely salad out of all I had on hand.
It was then that the idea dawned on me: this salad is a lot like friendship. There are many parts – some whole, and sturdy: like a head of green leaf lettuce or fresh carrots. Others, like a couple of handfuls of almonds or dried cranberries – add texture and brightness to the dish. Regardless of what each ingredient is and how it serves the dish, the salad is all the more beautiful when they are all together as a whole.
This simple metaphor is a gentle reminder to me of how much more rich and whole my life is, thanks to friendship.
I recently celebrated a birthday and felt so loved, seen, and cared for by my friends. I recognize this gift and how rare it is to have friendships like the ones I have. There is so much more I could say here, but instead, I’ll keep it simple: to my dear friends, I dedicate this recipe and my heart for it to you. May you know how much I love and treasure you!
Now, let’s eat 😉
Jacq’s “Friendship Salad” + and Homemade Vinaigrette
VEGETARIAN, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, NUT FREE (if modified), SOY FREE
Serves 4 | Active Time: 20 minutes
This is no average salad! It’s hearty and so colorful. It’s best served fresh and with a light wine like this Rose or this Pinot Grigio. You can add almost anything that sounds good to you, just make sure there’s lots of texture, and you absolutely MUST salt your greens before adding anything else! (See my note in the recipe steps.) Feel free to play around with the flavors and see what tastes best to you. You can’t mess this one up!
And lastly, don’t skimp on the homemade vinaigrette. Whenever I make it, people are always surprised it’s homemade! It’s seriously so easy, delicious and so worth making it yourself!
Let’s get started.
*If you don’t have some of these items, they’re worth investing in! All products featured are independently selected by me. However, if you buy something through the retail links below, I may earn an affiliate commission.
+ Knife (This is my very favorite everyday knife! I use it every day, and the best part is that its high quality and super affordable.)
+ 1 Glass mixing cup
+ 1 Jar with lid
+ 1 Serving Bowl (I love a good melamine bowl!)
Ingredients – Salad
(These are my recommendations based on what’s usually in my fridge, but seriously, use what you have on hand – it makes it better!)
+ 2-3 large handfuls of “crunchy” lettuces (such as romaine, green leaf, kale, or arugula), rough chopped
+ 2-3 large handfuls of “soft” lettuce (such as spinach or bibb lettuce), rough chopped
+ 2-3 medium whole carrots, peeled and sliced
+ 1-2 whole celery stalks, sliced
+ 1 green, red or yellow pepper, diced
+ 1 medium cucumber, diced
+ 1-2 handfuls of your nut of choice (I like sliced almonds here, though not necessary if keeping nut-free)*
+ 1-2 handfuls of dried or fresh fruit of choice
+ 1 ripe avocado, pitted and cubed or 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced (for a little extra here!)
+ kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Ingredients – Vinaigrette
+ 1 shallot
+ ¼ C white wine vinegar
+ ½ Tsp salt, plus more to taste
+ 2-3 TBs of Dijon or Honey Dijon mustard (I love Honey Dijon, but if you can’t find it, regular Dijon is just as good!)
+ ¾ C good extra virgin olive oil
First, start with the vinaigrette by slicing the shallot. (Not sure how to do this? Here’s a great video.) Then, add the shallot to your jar with white vinegar and salt on top. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, start putting together your salad. Take your rough chopped salad greens and put them into your serving bowl. Toss with about a teaspoon of kosher salt. (This is important! Adding salt here helps your greens taste SO good, as I learned from Caroline Chambers. It’s a game-changer for salads!)
Then, add the remaining vegetables, nuts, and dried fruit on top of the salad, however, you would like. I love putting them in vertical rows to create a pretty aesthetic. (But, if this isn’t your thing, don’t worry because everything will get tossed together shortly!)
Next, finish the salad dressing by adding the Dijon mustard and stir with shallot, white wine vinegar, and salt to combine. Add a touch of cracked black pepper if you wish! Then, slowly while whisking, add the extra virgin olive oil. Add the lid to the jar and shake for about 10-20 seconds until fully combined. Taste. (Does it need anything extra? Tang – add white wine vinegar. Bite – add Dijon. Creaminess – add extra virgin olive oil. You’re the boss here!)
Right before serving, pour as much of the salad dressing as you’d like around the rim of the serving bowl. (Learned from Gregory Gourdet’s wonderful recent cookbook, this prevents the salad dressing from weighing everything else down!) Use tongs to combine everything. Add more dressing if needed. It’s important to use less to start, then add more if you feel like it needs it. Save the rest of the dressing for later use.
Taste for good measure, add anything else you’d like, and serve to your very best friends!
If you enjoyed this blog post, check out A Dinner Party to Remember