House Salad

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Classic House Salad — An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it’s flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Easy House Salad Recipe

Everyone needs an easy house salad recipe in their life! The type of basic salad recipe that uses common ingredients that likely already have on hand in your produce crisper drawer.

Crisp Romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, shredded Parmesan, and crunchy croutons are a must.

After that, I use whatever I have on hand since and am craving or need to use since this is a super flexible salad recipe.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

This salad is what I call a starter salad, side salad, or a dinner salad. It’s a side dish in plant-based form.

It’s the salad you serve before or alongside weeknight dinners at home as a way to round things out and get some greenery and vegetables into your diet, or your family’s, and balance out your plate.

While I like to shake together or whish together an easy olive oil and vinegar vinaigrette which also has a bit of Dijon mustard, garlic and onion powder and oregano for flavor, and a touch of honey or maple syrup for sweetness, you can use whatever vinaigrette or salad dressing you like – homemade or store bought included.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

House Salad Ingredients

The beauty of a simple house salad is that it uses extremely basic fresh produce that you likely already have on hand or can find at any supermarket. And of course, I love the minimal prep time.

While there’s a ton of flexibility in what ingredients you use, here’s what I use in my house salads as well as ways to tweak the ingredients in parentheses:

For the Salad:

  • Romaine lettuce (or a lettuce blend, spring mix, or mix with a variety of lettuces including spinach, baby spinach, endive, arugula, butter lettuce, iceberg lettuce, radicchio, and so forth)
  • Tomatoes (Beefsteak, heirloom, Roma, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, yellow or orange tomatoes, etc.)
  • Cucumber (English or regular)
  • Carrots
  • Red onions or shallots (white or yellow onions)
  • Croutons, for garnishing (homemade or store bought)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (or another favorite shredded or grated cheese Pecorino, Romano, grated white cheddar, feta or blue cheese crumbles, cheddar cheese, or shredded blend/mix such as a “Mexican cheese blend” or “pizza cheese blend” or whatever looks good to you)
Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

For the Red Wine Vinaigrette:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar (or rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc. but I am not a fan of basic white vinegar here. And see below that you can use equal parts lemon juice + vinegar rather than solely vinegar too)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

How to Make a Simple House Salad

It’s a near foregone conclusion that you’re going to be serving this salad alongside something else. Therefore, don’t obsess!

You can either:

  1. Add the lettuce torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces, and then all remaining ingredients on top of it, in a large bowl. I use this method for big family gatherings and we pass the bowl around family-style. OR…
  2. Add a handful of lettuce to individual plates, and top each with the remaining ingredients. I tend to prefer this method when I am serving it to my family. Because it’s one less big bowl to wash and I just quickly plop down the lettuce and then top each pile of lettuce with the other ingredients to ensure everyone gets a bit of everything in their simple plated house salad!
Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

How to Make Red Wine Vinaigrette

Making your own vinaigrette is so quick and easy! It always begs the question for me why do people even buy them?

Literally add all the ingredients to the jar, seal, shake, taste, tweak to taste, and drizzle.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Jars for Vinaigrette

Make sure you have a Mason jar with a lid or some sort of little jar that you can seal.

An old mayonnaise jar, or jelly or jam jar works too. I never throw those out. Rewash, save, and repurpose!

Vinaigrettes and salad dressings in general I find are highly personal. My measurement guidelines are just that, a rough framework for you to use, but always add ingredients to your personal taste preferences including more salt, pepper, garlic or onion powder.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Vinaigrette Flavor Tips

Lemon lover? You can use equal parts vinegar + lemon juice. For today’s recipe, you would use 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar + 2 tablespoons lemon juice, rather than 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar for a lemony vinaigrette.

Fan of balsamic vinaigrette? Make one by replacing the red wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar instead.

Want it spicier? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or even the tiniest pinch ever of cayenne pepper.

Lacks pizzazz or oomph? Likely this is a fault of not enough salt. Add more, and don’t be shy! This is the most common error home cooks make is under-salting.

Want it bolder? Add more garlic powder or minced garlic, and/or more onion powder.

Have fresh herbs? Finely dice your fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh parsley, and add them. You can also use a blender like I do in the two basil vinaigrettes that I link below.

Add more sweetener (honey, maple, agave, or a pinch of sugar) if you want to cut the pungentness of the vinegar. And/or if you used balsamic vinegar rather than red wine vinegar for example.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Other Dressings to Use on a Side Salad

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Recipe Substitutions and Variations to Try

I love making house salads with whatever I have in my fridge crisper drawer and use the “toss it all in” approach in general.

Apart from the suggestions I gave in the ingredients list above (like using other types of lettuce in place of Romaine), if you have any of the following on hand, they are all great house salad ingredients:

  • Leftover grilled vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Roasted vegetables including bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and just about anything you can roast!
  • Fresh bell peppers, radishes, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Asian-inspired veggies such as bok choy, baby corn, peapods, snow peas, shelled edamame
  • Mexican-inspired veggies such as grilled corn, fire-roasted green or red chiles, pickled jalapenos, pickled red onions, and so on.
  • Nuts including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.
  • To make the salad vegan (not just vegetarian), omit the grated cheese. Or use a vegan cheese substitute. To make it gluten-free, omit the croutons or use gluten-free croutons.
Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

What to Serve with a Classic House Salad

As I mentioned, this easy house salad recipe is the perfect side salad that goes with just about any main dish or entree.

In particular, the freshness and crispness of the lettuce and veggies will be a welcome addition to these main dishes and so many more!

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Classic House Salad FAQs

What’s really in a traditional house salad?

After doing some research, it seems that traditional house salads that are served in restaurants encompass very basic ingredients – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, etc. It’s a simple, inexpensive, easy salad made with things that most kitchens (restaurant kitchens or home kitchens) always have on hand.

Why is it called a house salad?

Again, it seems this goes back to a starter salad or basic salad that restaurants serve to guests as an appetizer or first course. Of course you can customize it and build on it by adding other vegetables or proteins.Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Can I add chicken or shrimp to my house salad?

Of course! If you want to serve this as more than just a starter or side salad and want to it to be more of a meal, adding protein is the way to go. Chicken is an easy and obvious choice.

Store bought rotisserie chicken, Poached Chicken, Grilled Lemon Chicken, or 20-Minute Perfect Baked Chicken are all quick and easy options.

Feeling like shrimp? My easy 10 Minute Orange Chili Shrimp are ready in a flash.

And if you’re a bacon fan, Air Fryer Bacon is a fast way to prepare it before adding some bacon crumbles to your salad.

Can I use store bought salad dressing or a store bought vinaigrette with this easy house salad?

Yes of course! If you don’t want to make your own, by all means, crack open a bottle of Ranch, French, Blue Cheese, Caesar, Honey Mustard, or whatever dressing you enjoy or have on hand.

What kind of croutons should I use?

For ease and simplicity, I buy my croutons. I like oversize or larger seasoned croutons but it’s up to you.

However, there are tons of recipes online for how to make your own croutons. It’s really as easy as toasting some bread in the oven like I do to start my famous Classic Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe.

Another option is to make your own Tortilla Strips like I use in Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Can I halve the recipe? or double or triple the recipe?

Yes you sure can. As written, using 1 head of Romaine lettuce or a similar amount of bagged lettuce, you can make about 4 to 6 small salads. You can easily adjust the yield by halving, doubling, tripling all the ingredients, as desired.

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

Storage Instructions

Salads are always best enjoyed when they’re freshly made. While you could assemble a salad up to 24 hours beforehand – say for a work or school lunch on the go – the closer you can assemble and then serve it, the better.

However, if you do have leftover homemade vinaigrette or homemade salad dressing, they tend to keep well in an airtight container or jar for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.

Vinaigrette Storage Tip

Note that the olive oil + honey or maple syrup will tend to firm up in the fridge (not harden fully like gravy for example) but take it out 30 minutes before you plan to dress your salad so you can shake and add it with ease. Otherwise a 5 second zap in the microwave can help!

Classic House Salad - An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.

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4.80 from 5 votes

Classic House Salad

By Averie Sunshine
An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it's flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.
See Notes below for other lettuce, vegetable, and vinaigrette options and substitutions.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients  

Salad

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and trimmed (or 12-ounce bag of Romaine)
  • 1 large diced tomato, heirloom or similar, 2 diced Roma tomatoes, or 3/4 to 1 cup halved or sliced cherry/grape tomatoes
  • ½ medium cucumber or English cucumber, sliced or diced small (I peel regular cucumbers but not English)
  • ½ cup shredded carrots or about 1/2 cup small diced carrots, peeled
  • cup thinly sliced red onions, rinse under cold water to remove some of the ‘bite’
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing to taste
  • Croutons, for garnishing to taste (homemade or store bought)

Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if desired
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste if desired

Instructions 

  • Salad – To a large bowl (or individual plates), add the lettuce, and top with the remaining ingredients, as desired.
  • Vinaigrette – To a small glass jar with a lid (Mason jar or an old and well-washed mayo/jam/jelly jar, etc.) add all the ingredients. Seal, shake, and taste. Tweak the flavor, as desired. Flavoring/Seasoning Tips – If it tastes at all "boring" or lacks pizzazz or oomph, that's generally a sign it needs more salt. Don't be afraid to add it (and generously), as desired. Likewise, don't be afraid to add more sweetener (or a pinch of granulated sugar) if it's overly "bitey" or potent. It's normal to need to add something sweet to balance the acidity of the vinegar.
  • Once dressed, salad should be served immediately. Extra vinaigrette will last airtight in the fridge for at least 7 days. Remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before shaking and using as the cold air in the fridge will cause it to be overly thick and hard to shake but it will loosen up at room temp.

Notes

Nutritional Information – Plain salads are extremely low in fat and calories. It's the vinaigrette (or salad dressings of any kind) that add calories and fat which is what is happening here. The less you add, the lower the stats will be. Nutritional info is computer generated and provided as a courtesy. Calculate on your own or by hand if desired.
Lettuce – Romaine lettuce is the classic but a lettuce blend or mix with a variety of lettuces such spinach, endive, arugula, butter lettuce, iceberg, radicchio, and so forth all work. You can use a head of lettuce or use bagged lettuce that's already washed, chopped, and ready to go.
Tomatoes – Heirloom, beefsteak, Roma, cherry, grape, heirloom, yellow or orange, etc.
Vinegar – Instead of red wine vinegar, you can use rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc. but I am not a fan of basic white vinegar here. You can also use equal parts lemon juice + vinegar rather than solely vinegar if you want a lemony vinaigrette. In this recipe, use 2 tablespoons lemon juice + 2 tablespoons vinegar.
Onions – Red onions, shallots, white or yellow onions are fine.
Cheese – Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is great but another favorite shredded or grated cheese such as Pecorino, Romano, grated white cheddar, feta or blue cheese crumbles, or shredded blend/mix such as a “Mexican cheese blend” or “pizza cheese blend”, etc.
Vinaigrette Options and Substitutions

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 280kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 309mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 17g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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  1. I love & use your recipes almost daily. But, as a senior with my vision not what it once was, I can no longer navigate your site due to all the ads and instructions. I thought I saw where I could go straight to the recipe & print it. I don’t see that option any more. It’s possible it’s there, but with page after page after page of this & that, I can’t find it. Please help! Thank you!!

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