Anytime I reach for a basic but delicious side salad, I find myself looking up this classic Italian Insalata Mista. It’s unassuming but pretty and always gets compliments – even when it doesn’t mean to steal the show. Lightly Adapted from Italian Classics by Cooks Illustrated.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4-6 as a side

Salad Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 tbspn extra-virgin olive oil

Salad Ingredients

  • About 8 cups mixed greens (I love a combo of arugula, spinach and red lettuce)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled (outer skin discarded) and then shaved down as far as possible (remaining shavings go in the salad)
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/8 inch slices
  • 1/4 medium onion, sliced as thinly as you can manage


Whisk the vinegars and salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil until the mixture is smooth. Alternatively, combine all dressing ingredients in a small mason jar (my favorite method) and shake vigorously until smooth – a few seconds.

Place the greens, carrot, cucumber and red onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently. Serve immediately.


  • Usually, I use whatever lettuces I have in the fridge. That’s normally a mix of spinach, arugula and/or mixed greens. To get a little fancier, combine the Cook’s Illustrated suggested pairing:
    • 4 cups mild greens (bibb, green leaf, red oak, baby romaine), washed and dried
    • 2 cups spicy greens (arugula or watercress), washed and dried
    • 2 cups bitter greens (radicchio or endive), washed and dried
  • Double the salad dressing recipe if you like heavier dressing or want to save some for later.
  • I shave the carrot because I prefer the texture of the shavings to any other method. However, you can also just peel off the outer skin and shred on a box grater or chop finely instead.