Liz's Bistro Salad Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Liz's Bistro Salad

15 reviews / 4.9 average

Crunchy, light, bright, and ultra-fresh. This French-inspired bistro salad is an absolute star as a side for nearly any dinner. Tender greens, fresh herbs, pickled onions, and a delicate vinaigrette on top.

This salad!

WOW. I am fully in love with this salad.

My friend Liz (of Liz's Roasted Broccoli Salad fame) brought this salad to our dinner club a few weeks ago. We had a French-ish theme - charcuterie, French onion soup, beef bourguignon, creamy potatoes, homemade bread, and creme brûlée. LOL. And then there was Liz's salad. It was like a little beacon of brightness in a sea of cream, butter, and cheese. I would (and have) eat this as a salad on its own, but the contrast of this with, say, a beef stew, or a really cheesy panini, or a big bowl of luscious mushroom soup - that's where this salad shines.

In This Post: Everything You Need For This Bistro Salad

It's a study in simplicity. The entire salad is greens, herbs, pickled onions, and vinaigrette. That's it. It's like a love song to everything green.

But here's why I really love it:

It is an A+ balance of crunchy and light and delicate - the herbs are ultra-fresh but not bossy, the pickled onions are there but not in your face, and the combination of finely chopped romaine (cronchy) with gently torn butter lettuce (tender) with the lightest, brightest vinaigrette slicked into to every nook and cranny is absolute salad perfection.

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A picture of Liz's Bistro Salad

Liz's Bistro Salad


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings as a side 1x

Description

Crunchy, light, bright, and ultra-fresh. This French-inspired bistro salad is an absolute star as a side for nearly any dinner. Tender greens, fresh herbs, pickled onions, and a delicate vinaigrette on top. 


Ingredients

Units Scale

Pickled Onions

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • a pinch of salt and sugar

Bistro Salad

  • 1 romaine heart, stem removed and chopped
  • half a head of butter lettuce, stem removed, gently torn
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced tarragon
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped or torn
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, minced

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup canola oil (see notes)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard or mayo - the purpose of this is to emulsify the dressing

Instructions

  1. Pickled Onions: Place the onions in a jar; fill the jar about a third of the way with vinegar, then fill to the top of the onions with water. Add salt and sugar, shake, and keep in the fridge for a few hours or a few days. (I'd suggest 30 minutes minimum if you're short on time.)
  2. Vinaigrette: Shake all dressing ingredients in a jar. It should be pleasantly bright and mellow - remember we'll be adding a bunch of onions and herbs to the salad, so it's okay for this dressing to be pretty chill. Keep this in the fridge if making ahead.
  3. Salad: Prep all your salad greens - chop the romaine and the herbs, and gently tear the lettuce leaves into bite sized pieces.
  4. Toss: Just before serving, toss greens, herbs, pickled onions, and dressing together - starting with about half of the dressing that's in the jar, and adding more as necessary.
  5. Serve: Taste and adjust; add salt and pepper to taste. It's tender, bright, a little puckery, and so fresh. I love it.

Notes

To make ahead: prep the onions and the dressing. Chop the greens. Store everything separately in the fridge, and assemble the amount you need just before serving! This works really well as a make-ahead side salad for dinners throughout the whole week. I would double the dressing and then just buy a bunch of greens and throw my 2-4 person salads together every night throughout the week.

If you want to scale this up, you should have enough dressing for a 6-8 serving salad; just add another romaine heart and use a full head of butter lettuce instead of half.

You can use another oil if you want, but I like canola for the neutral flavor - it keeps the dressing very mild.

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chop
  • Cuisine: French-Inspired

Keywords: bistro salad, french salad, side salad

Other Things To Know About This Bistro Salad

Salad with lettuce, fresh herbs, and pickled onions in a bowl.

What Makes This a Bistro Salad?

To my knowledge, this is generally what I understand to be a French Bistro Salad - or a simple green salad that is served in cafes and bistros around France. Liz brought this as the salad for our French dinner club night! And none of us are French, so we're just doing our best out here to learn and borrow some French sophistication which is why I'm not necessarily going to call this a “French Bistro Salad” in case we are way off the mark.

In general, I just like to think of this as a lightly dressed pile of greens that mentally takes you to a much fancier place (BISTRO LIFE!) and complements almost any dish on any plate. If you have more context on French Bistro Salads in general, feel free to pop your thoughts into the comments. 🙂

What Else Could You Add To This Salad?

If you're feeling extra, a couple ideas that seem really solid:

  • toasted nuts like walnuts
  • goat cheese crumbles
  • shaved Parmesan cheese
  • golden crispies (really, just an excuse to make a big batch of these)
  • thinly shaved vegetables or fruits - squash, cucumber, apples

Do You Have To Use Canola Oil?

No, you don't. The reason it's used here is because it's a neutral-flavored oil. But I will say, I have made this with olive oil and it's delicious. My understanding is that part of the key to a French bistro salad is a very light dressing that doesn't overpower the greens, and of the two versions I made, I definitely preferred the canola oil dressing - the olive oil comes on a bit strong. But personally, I'm not too precious of a cook so I say any kind of oil (where you like the flavor of the oil) could work! Just remember that everything here is pretty delicate (the chives, the lettuce, the dill, etc.) so you don't want any one thing to really take over the salad.

How Long Does This Keep?

Not long, especially after you mix it. Those leaves start to get soggy pretty quickly, so I would recommend tossing the salad up within 5-15 minutes of serving. The elements will all keep individually for several days in the fridge, so keep them separate in the fridge and you'll be good to go!

How Great Is Liz?

VERY GREAT! She is my salad-famous friend, the one we always go to for ideas on making vegetables great. Thanks, Liz! ♡

Liz's Bistro Salad: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use any salad greens here?

Tender greens, like butter lettuce and romaine, really work best here so that the salad doesn't get overpowered in flavor from something like spinach or arugula.

How long will the pickled onions last?

Store them for 3-5 days in a sealed jar in the fridge!

Can this salad be meal prepped?

Sure! The elements will all keep individually for several days in the fridge, so keep them separate in the fridge, mix things together right before enjoying, and you'll be good to go!

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31 Comments

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    This salad looks delicious and would be perfect for spring! Will be pinning, thank you.

    May I suggest though, that you don’t use canola oil? It is an unhealthy, toxic oil. A good neutral substitute would be avocado oil.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made “a” salad tonight with romaine, spinach and cucumber but used this dressing. Chef’s kiss! Can’t wait to use the real bistro blend of lettuce. So light and delicious.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I m following your blogs for 1 month. I loved all your recipe blogs. But this salad looks delicious and healthy. It’s perfect for everyone.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bonjour, here’s my French input: Vinaigrette comes from the word vinegar which is the base of the recipe. It may be replaced by lemon in the south of France but red wine or cider vinegar is the usual ingredient. We never use mayonnaise nor sugar, just Dijon mustard so yes, the result is a bit on the sharp/strong side.
    Thanks for your post (we love your blog over here) and your club dinner menu made us smile: all the rich foods at once! Bon appétit! 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Went to the grocery store yesterday to purchase baby butter lettuce and baby romaine and it was so worth it. Sold out of tarragon, but even with just dill + fresh chives it was so good. I did opt for olive oil instead and it was the right call. Will definitely be making this once a week, at least. Thank you!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow!! This Salad looks so delicious! Big fan of pickled onions too so I am going to have to make this!!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Served this salad tonight with Italian sausage lentil soup. My family loved it, and I’m making it again tomorrow.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve already made this salad three times in a week! It is so bright and simple yet complex and flavorful. It’s going to be a regular run the rotation from here on out.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve made this nonstop for the last two weeks!! So good. Added avocado and some homemade sourdough croutons and we are in heaven!!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    MUST TRY!

    This is my new favorite salad. This recipe first caught my eye and I was intrigued by the dill and how it would give such a refreshing flavor. But, I was also so skeptical of fresh tarragon after I first smelt it. Kind of reminded me of black licorice so I started off by only adding half the amount of herbs. After my first bite I decided to add the rest of the herbs since I couldn’t taste them. TRUST LINDSEY SHE KNOWS WHAT SHES DOING HERE!

    I topped with fresh basil and toasted walnuts too. So amazing, I love this salad so much!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    So cool! last time I visited France I was wondering what the dressing of the salad was as they were simple yet delicious! Can’t wait to try this one 🙂

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks gorgeous!! I’m drooling over here. More posts like this with simple, bright flavors. This looks truly incredible and I can’t wait to try it. Thank you! 🙂

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    This salad is delicious! I wish this recipe had existed when I was pregnant craving salads!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ok you were not kidding about this one! I thought it looked good but put off making it because I just didn’t feel like buying all those greens at once. But then I saw some nice looking butter lettuce at the store at the same time that I was thinking of a dill recipe so I went for it. So worth it! New favorite salad! We had it last night with some wild rice soup (another recipe winner!!) and then again this morning alongside a nice bowl of grits and eggs. Thanks for this!!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made this tonight and added some shaved Parmesan and croutons….so DELISH! Can’t wait to make this again and again!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just finished making this salad for the 4th time in one week. SO AMAZING!

    I didn’t have tarragon and it was still delicious. I made it a few times without the butter lettuce and I felt it was still really good. It tastes great with the addition of feta or goat cheese and some sourdough croutons.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    This bistro salad recipe looks absolutely delicious and perfect for a light yet satisfying meal. The combination of fresh greens, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocado, and flavorful vinaigrette is simply irresistible. And with the added protein from the hard-boiled eggs and chicken, it’s a well-rounded dish that will keep you full and satisfied. Plus, with the help of Versalini, you can have all the ingredients you need to make this salad and other tasty recipes delivered right to your doorstep. So why not try making this bistro salad for your next lunch or dinner? https://versalininyc.com/

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    This salad is so simple yet so delicious, we loved the fresh flavour with the herbs, I’ll be making this lots this summer 👍🏼

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    One of the best salads I’ve ever made!! I’ve been shy about following recipes that have dill as one of the ingredients, but my love for dill has officially developed after making this recipe!! The flavors are so clean and bright – if you’re not a salad lover, prepared to be converted. I’ve paired this with richer recipes like braised short ribs and pasta with meatballs/meat sauce. So so so delicious!!

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Super tasty! I kept the onions raw and sliced on the thinnest setting on the mandolin.