I make this salad all. the. time. All seasons, all occasions, no occasion at all. I never get sick of it. It’s beautifully bright, savory, healthy, reasonably hearty, and easy to make—everything I want in a weekday salad. My husband and I like to make an enormous bowl of it and eat the entire thing in one sitting, but it also works as a simple dinner-party side.
My all-time favorite salad, chock-full of chopped herbs, homemade croutons, big chunks of avocado, savory parmesan cheese, and bright, fresh arugula. The key is this: Just eyeball it. I included some rough measurements below, but once you get the hang of it, quit measuring. Grab some handfuls of arugula, chop up whatever mint (or other herbs) you have on hand, make a ton of croutons from last night’s leftover bread, know the dressing by heart—this is a simple and forgiving salad, and it’s going to be delicious no matter what you do.
Time: 15 minutes
Serves: Two as a generous main; four as a side or appetizer
Drink: Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé
1. Make croutons
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the bread into cubes. I usually do big ones, about an inch thick, but any size works. Spread out on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
2. While the croutons are baking, make dressing
Squeeze the whole lemon into a jar or a small bowl. Add almost the same amount of olive oil as lemon juice, about a half cup, depending on how juicy your lemon was. Add 1 tsp kosher salt (a generous pinch) and about the same amount of black pepper. Add 1 tsp of granulated sugar (thickens the dressing). Close the jar and shake vigorously, or whisk in the bowl, until thick and uniform.
3. Assemble the salad
In a large bowl, add arugula, basil, mint, parmesan, croutons, and avocado. Drizzle with some of the dressing, toss, and add more if you need it. (The dressing works on lots of salads, so if you have leftover, save it!) Season with salt and pepper to taste.