Salads are nutritious and have endless creative possibilities limited only by your imagination and what you have on hand. They can be a side dish or the main course. A salad can restore your health and refresh your palate.

My friend, Lynn, who is also a Kitchen Chat producer, shared her family tradition with me. Her Italian mother- in law, Lola, taught her the basics to create a signature salad. The secret is to use good quality, fresh ingredients. Do not use precut, prepackaged, or prepared items such as bottled garlic.

Start with a foundation of a quality vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, I use red wine vinegar. Experiment with apple cider, malt, balsamic as well. Choose a lettuce or combination of lettuces and put in an bowl. I personally enjoy Romaine. Squeeze a clove of garlic through a garlic press and put it on the lettuce. Cut up onion; white, red, green, or chives and place on salad. I enjoy using a mandolin for the onions. Now you can add any other ingredients you wish. Fresh pepper, olives, berries, apple, pear, nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, cheese, egg, steak, salmon, shrimp, avocado, honey, squeeze of lemon, etc. Create a palette for your palate!

Finish your creation with a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, pepper, parmesan reggiano and croutons. I remember Patricia Wells telling me years ago that “a salad always needs a crunch to satisfy.” The amount of oil, vinegar, etc. is put on the salad to taste. This takes practice to understand, it is what makes your salad unique. You, too can perfect the tradition of Lynn and Lola to create your own taste legacy for your family and friends.

Ingredients in my pictured salad:

Romaine hearts, garlic, red onion, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, parmesan reggiano, olives, raspberries and blueberries.

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