The Best Salad Recipe

November 21, 2019

The BEST Salad recipe! If there is one salad recipe you need in your recipe box this is it, it’s my families favorite! It’s made with fresh romaine lettuce, two kinds of cheese, flavorful bacon, sweet grape tomatoes, crunchy toasted almonds, crisp croutons and it’s all tossed with a fresh, bright lemon vinaigrette.

The Best Salad in a large salad bowl. Salad includes romaine lettuce, bacon, croutons, parmesan, swiss cheese, almonds, grape tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette dressing.

Family Favorite Salad Recipe!

This is one of those recipes that has been in my family for probably 20+ years. My aunt made it at most holiday get togethers, then my sister started making it for just about every party and now it’s just become the top requested in salad in my family.

You just can’t go wrong with that BLT flavor combination! Plus this salad has all the perfect blend of all the best textures.

I’ve made a few modifications from the original recipe. For instance it calls for vegetable oil and I like to use light olive oil (I think it has a better flavor and it’s healthier), then I add a little extra of this and that (like those delicious toasted almonds).

And I also added honey and dijon mustard to the dressing. These are natural emulsifiers so they help bind the dressing together. They also add a nice faint flavor that pairs well with the lemon and helps balance that acidity.

One other thing I like to do when time allows is make homemade croutons (see how to below). They just taste so much better but sometimes it’s not so practical so store bought works fine.

The real name of the salad recipe is Salad de Maison but “The Best Salad” is just more fitting. No matter what you decided to call it you’ve got to try this salad! It will likely become the most requested salad in your family too!

Ingredients needed to make salad and dressing shown here.

Ingredients Needed to Make This Salad:

For the Salad:

  • Slivered almonds – stick with slivered almonds, not substitutes. Sliced almonds don’t have the same crunch their more delicate, and another nut doesn’t taste as good here.
  • Bacon – use good quality bacon. Sometimes the cheap brands are way too salty and the flavor isn’t as good.
  • Large romaine hearts – pre-chopped bags of romaine hearts can be used to save time, but if times allows freshly chopped tastes best.
  • Grape tomatoes – cherry tomatoes work great as well.
  • Swiss cheese and parmesan cheese – use freshly shredded cheeses.
  • Croutons – when using store-bought I use something like Italian seasoned.

For the Dressing:

  • Light olive oil – if preferred vegetable oil or regular pure olive oil can be substituted.
  • Lemon juice – only use freshly squeezed lemon juice here, not bottled.
  • Garlic – stick with freshly minced garlic.
  • Dijon mustard – this helps bind the dressing together.
  • Honey – this helps balance the tartness of the lemon.
  • Salt and pepper – this dressing uses a fair amount of each.

Lemon vinaigrette dressing in a glass jar shown before and after mixing.

How to Make The Best Salad {Salad de Maison}:

  • Make the dressing, chill: Add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dijon and honey to a jar. Add salt and pepper. Cover and seal with lid, shake to blend. If needed stir up honey if it sticks to bottom of jar. Chill in refrigerator while you prepare remainder.

Slivered almonds on a small baking sheet shown before and after toasting.

  • Toast almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds into an even layer on a small baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until just lightly golden brown, about 6 – 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through toasting. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.

Strips of bacon on a foil lined baking sheet shown on the left then on the right bacon strips are cooked and sitting on a paper towel to drain.

  • Cook bacon: Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place bacon strips on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in preheated oven until browned and nearly crisp (they’ll should crisp up fully once cooled), about 13 – 18 minutes (time will vary based on thickness of bacon).
  • Drain excess fat: Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and let cool. Once cool chop bacon into small pieces.

Chopping lettuce and spinning in a salad spinner.

  • Prepare lettuce: Rinse lettuce under cold water and run though a salad spinner (I have this one HERE – affiliate link) in batches to dry well. Add lettuce to a large serving bowl.

Chopping grape tomatoes in half on left side of image, second image on right shows shredding cheeses.

  • Toss salad ingredients: Add in almonds, bacon, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and parmesan cheese. Shake dressing again then pour over salad, toss salad then add croutons and toss again. Serve immediately.

How to Make Homemade Croutons:

  • Cut hearty day old bread into cubes about 3/4-inch, measure out 4 cups.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place bread pieces close together on a rimmed 18 by 13-inch then drizzle slowly and evenly with 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil, then toss to coat.
  • Spread bread across baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and some Italian seasoning (about 3/4 tsp).
  • Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and crisp, tossing once halfway through, about 15 – 20 minutes total.
  • Cool and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for longer shelf life.

Pouring lemon dressing over salad in a large white bowl.

Tips for Perfect Salad Every Time:

  • Chill dressing. It thickens it up and helps keeps the cold salad cold. Want to take it one step further? Serve salad on chilled plates.
  • Rinse lettuce. Most of the time you’ll find a little bug or debris in there.
  • Spin lettuce dry in a salad spinner. This is the best way to thoroughly dry lettuce leaves. If lettuce leaves are still wet dressing won’t cling to the leaves and sort of just puddles at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Use fresh grated cheese. The pre-shredded cheeses have a powdery cellulose coating and it doesn’t taste as good.
  • If time allows make homemade croutons.
  • Serve immediately after you add salad dressing, the dressing starts to wilt the leaves and soak into the croutons and the salad gets sort of soggy.

How to Make It in Advance?

Most of this salad can be prepared in advance but wait to toss with dressing! This is what I do when preparing in advance:

  • Cook the bacon, cool and chop, wrap in a paper towel and put in a bag but don’t seal completely and chill.
  • Toast the almonds, cool and put in a container.
  • Chop the lettuce, rinse and spin dry in a salad spinner. Put in the salad bowl, cover and chill.
  • Shred cheeses, chill.
  • The tomatoes I usually like to wait to chop until almost ready to serve because tomatoes shouldn’t be refrigerated it alters their flavor.

 

Salad in a large white serving bowl.

Can I Halve or Double the Recipe?

Yes! This recipe can be halved for a small family or doubled for a larger crowd.

How to Make it a Main Dish?

Add grilled chopped chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken to the salad and call it dinner!

10 More Salad Recipes You’ll Love:

 

The Best Salad Recipe {Salad de Maison}

If there is one salad recipe you need in your recipe box this is it, it's my families favorite! It's made with fresh romaine lettuce, two kinds of cheese, flavorful bacon, sweet grape tomatoes, crunchy toasted almonds, crisp croutons and it's all tossed with a fresh, bright lemon vinaigrette.

Servings: 9
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 10 oz bacon (10 slices)
  • 3 large romaine hearts*, chopped into bite size pieces (from 22 oz, 18 oz once chopped)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1.4 oz) finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups croutons

Lemon Dressing

  • 3/4 cup light olive oil**
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing: Add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dijon and honey to a jar. Add salt and pepper. Cover and seal with lid, shake to blend. If needed stir up honey if it sticks to bottom of jar. Chill in refrigerator while you prepare remainder.

  2. To toast almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds into an even layer on a small baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until just lightly golden brown, about 6 - 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through toasting. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.

  3. To cook bacon: Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place bacon strips on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in preheated oven until browned and nearly crisp (they'll should crisp up fully once cooled), about 13 - 18 minutes (time will vary based on thickness of bacon).

  4. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and let cool. Once cool chop bacon into small pieces.

  5. To prepare salad: Rinse lettuce under cold water and run though a salad spinner (affiliate link) in batches to dry well. Add lettuce to a large serving bowl.

  6. Add in almonds, bacon, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and parmesan cheese. Shake dressing again then pour over salad, toss salad then add croutons and toss again. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • *This is the center more crisp portion of romaine lettuce. You can usually buy these at most grocery stores, if not you can substitute 2 (9 oz) bags of pre-chopped romaine lettuce hearts or 1 1/2 heads romaine lettuce.
  • **Regular olive oil can be substituted it just has a more noticeable flavor. Vegetable oil works too for an even milder flavor.
Nutrition Facts
The Best Salad Recipe {Salad de Maison}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 386 Calories from Fat 297
% Daily Value*
Fat 33g51%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 25mg8%
Sodium 485mg21%
Potassium 379mg11%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 3857IU77%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Calcium 206mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Author: Jaclyn
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