Sensational Salads #4: Our Family’s Favourite Salad

I came upon this recipe a few years ago and although I didn’t make-up the name for this salad, the title doesn’t disappoint. It is absolutely one of our favourites! I like to roast my own peppers and don’t always have artichokes on hand, so I do find it is a bit more of a “plan ahead” salad and thus I don’t make it as often as I’d like. This recipe for Our Family’s Favorite Salad is brought to you by Gimme Some Oven.

Our Family’s Favorite Salad


  • 1 head red-leaf lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • (I am never too particular about the greens I use in my salads and will sometimes just opt for the store bought “Spring Mix” in lieu of above or just use a mixture or what I have on hand)
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly-sliced
  • 2 (14 ounce) jars quartered artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped (I only use one but this is just personal preference)
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced (I prefer OVEN roasting my own peppers! It is simple to do and can be done ahead of time. Here is a simple tutorial. One pepper is probably enough, but I would roast two and then decided if it looks like too much and if it does, just store the extra in the fridge for your next salad, pizza topping or omelette!)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts*
  • 1 batch zesty red wine vinaigrette (See below)
  • optional garnish: extra freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

Place the ingredients in a large bowl and toss.  Serve immediately, garnished with extra Parmesan cheese, if desired.


  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano is super yummy!!)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I sometimes substitute with avocado oil)
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Place all of the ingredients in a jar and shake like crazy!  Toss in salad and serve immediately.*

*Pine nuts can be pricey and I fine them to be quite bland. I will use them if I have them on hand, but will throw in other nuts or seeds when I don’t. I really like the salad with pistachios! We buy a large bag at Costco, so I pretty much always have them on hand. So yummy!!

Sensational Salads #3

Sensational Salads

A traditional basic salad basically consists of three main parts:

  1. Greens
  2. Veggies/Add-Ons
  3. Dressing

I’ve already alluded to some of this in my first post of this series, but wanted to revisit some aspects of it in more detail.

I believe that people get super bored with salad when they stick to the same old, same old. I love my dad, but if and when he makes a salad, it is the exact same salad I had regularly as a kid.

Iceberg lettuce + carrot + celery + cucumber + green onion + bottled dressing = BORING!!

I don’t love this salad. I tolerate it. In order to truly embrace and love salad, you really have to step out of your box and try different combinations.

  1. Greens ~ as previously mentioned in post one….MIX. IT. UP. I always keep Romain on hand. I use it solo, but also mix it with a variety of other greens. I love the “live” lettuce, spring mix, baby spinach and arugula blend, red lettuce, kale, and anything else that is leafy! Be adventurous. Varying your base of greens adds interests because of the various depths of green as well as colour with the hints of red. It also brings a variety of flavour and texture. I find that I will often couple a sturdier leaf with those that seem to wilt easily (like those from my garden).
  2. Vegetables ~ I mentioned how using different cutting techniques can help make your salad more visually appealing, but I felt that I had to bring up two other important things to consider when adding vegetables to your salad. Perhaps this is just personal preference, but I like to think of my vegetables more like a condiment/topping rather than a main ingredient. So for me, I’m thinking more like a dash, a hint, a sprinkling, a scattering, etc. When my husband makes a salad, it is always very vegetable heavy. By that I mean lots and lots of vegetables with greens added in. I very much appreciate his help in the kitchen, but I will usually offer to make the salad simply because my preference is for the vegetables to accent the greens. I find that a vegetable heavy salad often seems bland, especially when the vegetables are chopped. I find that each hunk of vegetable holds its own unique flavour ~ think chopped celery. A piece of chopped celery in a salad often tastes like….wait for it…wait for it….chopped celery! I just find that the flavours don’t unite and blend together to create an experience. I know this may sound crazy to others, but I really believe that the amount you add and the way in which it is cut makes a big difference. I challenge you to try it. For me, I use my salad additions sparingly. The greens are the body and main part of my salad and the veggies are added to offer interest, texture, colour and a hint of additional flavour. The way some vegetables are cut is not as important as others, but I really believe that very thinly slicing, spiralling and ribboning can tame the taste of some that can be over powering. The next time you prepare a salad, try it. Use less vegetables than you might typically use. Think of them more as a garnish. In addition, go out of your way to make very thin slices. Think of what you might normally dice/chop and ask yourself if there is a different way to cut it. I believe you too will see and taste a difference.
  3. A great dressing! I don’t need to go into much detail here, but I will challenge you to find homemade replacement recipes for the bottles you typically buy. There are so many additives in those store bought varieties and I promise a great homemade dressing recipe will knock your salad out of the park every time! I will be posting many great recipes throughout this series, but I know there will be some you don’t like. In fact, my personal umber #1 favourite dressing of all time (which I have yet to post so stay tuned), is not liked by the rest of my family😢 I always have a batch of this on hand because it is my absolute favourite, but when I use this dressing, my family will always opt for another. You may need to try several before you find your personal “go to’s”.
Just a quick example of how you might move away from dicing and chopping. It might be hard to tell in the photo, but the sliced examples are super thin and delicate. These ribbons aren’t as thin as when I use my Starfrit to cut them, but this version is simple to do with a basic vegetable peeler…try using less pressure to get a thinner ribbon.

I would love for you to step up to some of my challenges and let me know how it goes!