A fresh garden salad is a simple yet delightful way to enjoy the bounty of summer produce. Chef Nico Monday of Short & Main in Gloucester, Massachusetts, emphasizes the importance of a good vinaigrette in making a garden salad truly exceptional. “The most important thing is to know how to make a garden salad. And to do that you have to be able to make a really good vinaigrette. People often overdo it. Here’s how to do it: Take a mortar and pestle, pound a fresh clove of garlic, put a little salt in there and a good quality vinegar, whisk in olive oil, salt, fresh cracked pepper, dice a shallot, and you’re done.”

Here’s a detailed guide to making a delicious Summer Garden Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette.

For the Salad
Mixed salad greens (such as arugula, spinach, and lettuce)
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Cucumber, sliced
Radishes, thinly sliced
Carrots, shredded

Red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh herbs (such as basil, parsley, or dill)
For the Mustard Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 shallot, finely diced

1. Prepare the Salad
Wash and Dry Greens: Rinse the mixed salad greens thoroughly under cold water. Spin them dry in a salad spinner or pat them dry with paper towels.
Prepare Vegetables: Halve the cherry tomatoes, slice the cucumber, radishes, and red bell pepper, shred the carrots, and thinly slice the red onion.
Combine Ingredients: In a large salad bowl, combine the mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, carrots, red bell pepper, red onion, and fresh herbs.
2. Make the Mustard Vinaigrette
Pound the Garlic: In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic clove with 1/2 teaspoon of salt until it forms a smooth paste.
Add Mustard and Vinegar: Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Add the Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar, whisking until well combined.
Whisk in Olive Oil: Gradually whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified and smooth.
Season: Season the vinaigrette with fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
Add Shallots: Stir in the finely diced shallot.

3. Dress the Salad
Toss the Salad: Drizzle the mustard vinaigrette over the salad. Use just enough to lightly coat the greens and vegetables.
Mix Gently: Toss the salad gently to ensure all the ingredients are evenly coated with the vinaigrette.
4. Serve
Plate the Salad: Divide the salad among individual plates or serve it in the large salad bowl.
Garnish: Add additional fresh herbs or a sprinkle of grated cheese if desired.
Tips for a Perfect Garden Salad
Fresh Ingredients: Use the freshest vegetables and herbs available for the best flavor.
Balance Flavors: The vinaigrette should have a good balance of acidity and richness. Adjust the amount of vinegar and olive oil to suit your taste.

Don’t Overdress: Add the vinaigrette gradually to avoid overdressing the salad, which can make it soggy.
Serve Immediately: Serve the salad immediately after dressing to ensure the greens stay crisp.
By following these steps, you can create a vibrant and flavorful Summer Garden Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette. This refreshing salad is perfect for any meal and showcases the best of summer’s fresh produce. Enjoy!