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chopped salad

Americans have a reputation for not eating very well which is disputed by the fact that whenever I have a group of guests come to Paris, everyone is always craving fresh vegetables. Another interesting paradox is that portions in America are huge, yet Americans who come to France (where the portions are more reasonable) find themselves quickly full when dining out. And after a couple of days, they start begging away from heartier fare in search of a big bowl or plate of vegetables or a large salad, one with lots of vegetables in it.

People and restaurants in Paris don’t eat or serve raw vegetables much, except in les crudités – usually a trio of simple salads of grated carrots, celery remoulade, wedges of tomatoes, cucumbers, or sometimes even some beets tossed in dressing. Which aren’t technically raw (unless they’re grated), but sticklers are welcome to raise a fuss with the locals if they so desire. But with everyone on le régime (a diet) around here, you’d think vegetables would be more popular.

All summer long, I eat raw vegetable salads to counteract the rich foods I’ve been eating all winter, which previously could be hidden underneath bulky wool coats and scarves tied securely around my neck. But when it’s warmer out, I stock up on vegetables as best I can, changing what I buy according to what I find at the market. And I always pick up a few heads of fresh garlic as well, which has a season, too.


You never see raw garlic being served in Paris restaurants, or anything too garlic-heavy, most likely because of the smell. Humorously, when I ate at a Korean restaurant on the rue Saint-Anne with some friends recently, on the way out, the hostess offers each of us a piece of minty chewing gum. (I noticed quite a few declined and simply lit up a cigarette, which something tells me doesn’t have quite the same effect.)


I’ve noticed folks here often makes salad with canola oil, rather than olive oil, too. A friend who is a good cook said that ten years ago she never would have dreamed of using olive oil in her cooking. And in fact, if you look at a lot of classic aïoli recipes, many use a combination of olive and neutral-tasting oils, because the flavor of olive oil is so strong. (Remember “Trop de goût”?) Having used olive oil all my life in salad dressings, I’ve taken a cue from them and will now sometimes play around with grape seed oil, or another interesting variety.

green beans

When summer comes, or when I’ve eaten too many meals in restaurants, I pull out my big salad bowl daily. And I’ll keep the oven off and get out my cutting board to make a variation of this chopped vegetable salad. And whenever I grate some fresh garlic into the dressing, I realized how much I like it. It’s especially good with romaine lettuce, and I’ve decided I’m going to start eating a lot more garlic..because I like it!

tossed chopped salad

One of my favorite tricks is to use a rasp-style grater to prepare the garlic, so I don’t need to worry about getting my cutting boards all garlicky. It’s my small effort to keep everything in the city less-fragrant. Well, just a little.

Chopped Vegetable Salad with Lemon-Garlic Dressing

I guess I’m more French than I thought because I’m not a fan of very hard vegetables raw, like broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans. So if I use them, I blanch or steam the vegetables lightly, to make them a bit more palatable.

For the dressing:

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive or grape seed oil, or another favorite oil

For the salad - 6 cups (700g) mixed chopped vegetables and other additions such as:

  • Crumbled bacon
  • Diced avocado
  • Cubed grilled chicken
  • Batons of baked tofu
  • Crumbled feta, goat, or blue cheese
  • Shredded romaine, radicchio, or gem lettuce
  • Sliced or quartered radishes
  • Grated or julienne-cut carrots
  • Shredded red cabbage
  • Minced parsley or chives
  • Lightly steamed or blanched broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, or asparagus
  • Diced hard-cooked eggs
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quartered cherry tomatoes
  • In a large salad bowl, mix together the garlic, lemon juice, salt, and mustard with a fork
  • Add the olive oil and stir with the fork until the dressing is well mixed. (I don’t emulsify the dressing as I feel it gets too heavy and thick.)
  • Add the salad ingredients and toss well.

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    • Cathy

    Exactly the recipe and inspiration I was looking for!

    • Sky

    im vietnamese. and we eat a lot of raw garlic. from the land of smelly fish sauce, garlic smells fantastic!

    • Tami

    I had the same issue when visiting Paris. Craving veggies 24/7 but everywhere we went they boiled their veggies to the point they’re mushy or else the salade vert is a teeny tiny serving.

    • Three-Cookies

    You have covered probably all the food groups with the additions, very well balanced. Maybe the Korean restaurant should hand out cigarettes instead of minty chewing gum, there will be more satisfied customers.

    • Charis

    That looks amazing!
    What’s a rasp-style grater btw?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Charis: It’s a very sharp, small-holed grater with a handle. I added a link to the one I use in the post (which I like because the holes are larger than some of the others and it tends to grate the garlic into little pieces rather than mush) – but there are a variety of them on the market now and you can find rasp-style graters in stores that sell culinary equipment and online. They’re something that has become indispensable for grating hard cheeses (and some people use them for chocolate, too), and now I use mine for grating fresh garlic and ginger as well.

    • Merisi

    Looks delicious!
    Blanching or steaming some of the vegetables is my choice too.

    • Belles Lettres

    I tasted a salad just like this at a picnic prepared by French friends in the park at Sceaux last weekend! I have never, ever been a fan of cauliflower in any of its incarnations (as tried by my dear mother), but trying it lightly steamed, in a mixed salad, I though it was delicious.

    • Merisi

    My Microplane grater came with a polycarbonate protective slider, very handy when slicing the last bit of a carrot, for example. No more fingertips in the salad! The slider also acts as a container for several garlic cloves, making grating very efficient.

    • Sneh | Cook Republic

    That looks fresh and tasty David! I love purple garlic especially if I am using it raw .. somehow I find it sweeter and gentler on the palate. I am pro blanching too :-)

    • Barbra

    I’m with you: These kinds of salads, made easy with an abundance of good vegetables at the market, are exactly what I want to eat all summer long.

    As for olive oil, extra-virgin can become bitter with a lot of mixing, actually, which is one reason to temper it with another oil. It’s true, I swear!

    • Selen

    I also love toasted walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds and nigella seeds on salads. Add some grilled chicken or hellumi cheese and it’s a healthy main course. Nigella seeds go particularly good with cheese.

    • Nuts about food

    I finally got my husband to make me his homemade mayo (a post-worthy moment as he had been showing off about it for the past 15 years) and he used only extra virgin olive oil. It was strong in flavor and color but delicious. I usually use olive oil in cooking except for deep frying. When it comes to salad I cannot imagine using anything else!

    • Karen Brown

    Avocado oil! Here in NZ we produce the most delicious avocado oil, and anything raw tastes divine dipped in avo oil. Especially avocado. Must say, those little butter lettuce look particularly tasty. It’s winter here in the Pacific, that and the floods in Queensland, Australia have pushed the prices of salad greens to new highs. I could kill for a crisp asparagus spear or a ripe tomato. Cheers from the Icey Antipodes, Karen Brown

    • Magda

    I can’t imagine *not* using olive oil in salads. There’s nothing like it.

    I too used to believe that a cigarette after dinner can get rid of garlic smell, or onion smell, or any kind of smell. Talk about self delusion ;)
    Thank god I quit. Both smoking and deluding myself, heh.

    • angela

    There’s a lot in this salad, quite a meal… lemons dressing, the lemons make everything so fresh…. avocados in France tend to be hard or brown inside, they never seem to ripen just right….have tried all the usual stuff of brown paper bags with bananas etc….I agree with cooking the beans……lovely just with new potatoes and dressed with olive oil and garlic, lightly sauteed….another kind of salad entirely (given to me by my market vendor who sold me the potatoes and beans!). Bon Bastille Day!

    • Kim

    Love your dressing. I’m a huge fan of these with raw garlic, gives a lot of punch!

    • kitchenvoyage

    I amn spanish i like most of us we love garlic, one of my favourite is raw garlic with roast pepper salad but this dressing will be one of my favourite, i will try now that the wild garlic are in season. Thanks

    • Marie (a.k.a. Gardenfreshtomatoes)

    Never thought of using the microplane for garlic…thanks for the tip!

    • Anne

    With so many gorgeous veggies in the open air markets in Paris and so few on the restaurant menus….where do they all go?! It’s one of Paris’s great mysteries.

    • Heather

    that’s so funny that your American friends just crave vegetables over there! one would think that the rich French dishes would be on the menu all the time, but i suppose with all of the widely available fresh produce it’s easy to eat what’s good and in season more there. very cool!

    • Annabel (Mrs Redboots)

    I imagine the Parisians eat all the vegetables when they aren’t in the restaurants! Meat is a treat best reserved for eating out….. and I, too, suffer when eating in restaurants for too long at a stretch, which is why I prefer self-catering holidays.

    The French used to have a reputation for smelling of garlic – the joke was that the only reason to go first-class in the metro was because you got a better class of garlic in there….

    • Amy Kamm

    Looks delicious!!! Can’t wait to try it tonight.

    • Jenny

    I could eat salad every day every day for lunch. Lately I pput 1/2 cup of beans, a few sunflower seeds and chopped hearts of palm in my salad along with red pepper, mushrooms, green onions, lettuce, etc. — wonderful.

    • DessertForTwo

    What a great combination of flavors. I, too, eat lighter in the summer to make up for all the roasted meats of winter. And gravy and potatoes. Ok, now I’m hungry :)

    I’ve been playing with grapeseed oil too lately. I’m loving it for frying–better than canola, in my opinion.

    • johanna

    I was hoping for a red, white & blue recipe for Bastille day.
    Bonne fete anyhow.

    • Chrissy @

    When in Paris, I always end up having the same salad dressing at every restaurant. It seems to be a mixture of mayo and vinegar and other things – very basic. I have tried to duplicate it, but I just can’t seem to nail it. Does anyone know how to make it by chance??

    Happy Bastille Day!

    • Kalyn

    This is just the kind of thing I like to eat in the summer too, usually using at least some veggies from my garden. Love your tip of grating the garlic!

    • Tricia

    There used to be a sign at La Coupole, maybe still is, “Une Salade n’est pas un repas”
    Must have been all the Americans asking for just a salad.

    Bonnes Fetes!

    • la domestique

    I prefer to blanch most of the harder veg like broccoli and green beans too. I don’t like gnawing on a woody piece of broccoli. I think Americans always want fresh veg in France because we have this high expectation built up in our minds about a place where the fresh veg is more tasty, better looking, and fresher than our own. It’s kind of a romantic notion about French cuisine.

    • Linda

    Nothing better than a crispy chopped salad. I have gone all retro and started sprouting legumes and grains again (who wants to eat alfalfa anyway) and I try to keep a small container of cooked grains like quinoa, farrow, brown rice in the fridge to add to the salads-makes for an easy lunch to take to work. Feels so good and light for summer. Although I mostly make my own dressing I am hooked on Annie’s brand of sesame shitake dressing-so delicious. Sadly no longer available in Canada as the company relabeled and decided they wouldn’t do bilingual labeling for the Canadian market. Now I have to stock up when I go across the border.

    • JimmyJay

    I too am always trying to make the salad dressing I had a French resturant in Georgetown, washington DC. The server told me the ingredients but I just can’t achieve the same thing. It seems like a cross between a cesar and a vinagrette but I can’t ever get the creaminess to be the rigth consistency.

    • David

    ChrIssy-There’s a lot of Dijon mustard in the dressing in many French cafés (although many buy it already prepared)- and also it’s because they use regular oil rather than olive oil.

    A while back I did a post on French vinaigrette with a recipe you might want to take a look at as well.

    • Norine

    Of course, a microplane for garlic – duh on my part. I do have a small plastic cutting board for smelly stuff, but why when I have one of those little marvels. I just leave raw grean beans and broccoli out of salads. They have to be blanched just right.

    The Persians make a perfect lemon, olive oil dressing for a cucumber and onion salad.. Exquisite – and not at all heavy. .

    • kathy



    • Pennyloper

    I had the same vegetable problem during a 2 week visit in Barcelona. I just didn’t see any fresh vegetables when eating out. Everything was deep fried and heavily salted. And I love meat. By the 3rd day, I just wanted a simple salad of mixed greens for dinner and I finally found it at – of all places – McDonald’s. That Salad Shaker was one of the best meals during that trip. That and the vegetable paella at The Seven Doors restaurant.

    • Alana D

    Looks fresh and perfect for this time of yr.

    • steph

    that garlic is beautiful! i couldn’t live somewhere that didn’t have an appreciation for garlic, i don’t think.

    • Kelly Monaghan

    For those craving a salad in Paris, may I recommend Les Funambules, 12 Rue Faidherbe, in the 11th.

    I only had one salad there, but it was huge and delicious.

    • Steve

    A perfect salad during the summer when veggies are fresh (and local)… thanks – we will look forward to preparing this, soon!

    • everyday-vegetarian-recipes

    Thanks for dinner David! It’s rare that I read a blog page and instantly make the dish that evening but this grabbed my attention. It was exactly what I was in the mood for tonight. Simple and great use of the fresh veggies I already had too. I used avocado, lightly steamed potatoes, asparagus, sweet yellow pepper, pumpkin seeds, sweet, sweet cherry tomatoes… The fresh lemon and garlic flavours are still making me smack my lips. No way could I have a mint (or even a coffee right now;-) I don’t smoke so can’t comment there… Thanks again for the inspiration

    • Frances @ The Foodess Files

    Just the all-purpose light and fresh dressing I was looking for. I plan to grab any veggies that look good at the farmer’s market tomorrow, and tossing whatever it happens to be with this. It also might be good to toss cubed bread with, and then bake for croutons?

    • Jacqueline

    The people that give America the reputation for eating unhealthy and eating large portions are not the ones that can afford to go to Paris. I think a lot of them are people who really eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers everyday because they are the cheapest filling food around :-(

    • Kelly

    OMG!! Just made this salad with Romaine lettuce; a bit of vidalia onion; corn; shredded broccoli, cabbage, and carrots; cherry tomatoes, blanched green beans, and feta cheese. Can’t wait to have a dinner party and make this for friends.

    • Shari

    Yum! I love a big salad, and the dressing sounds divine. My favorite dressing is lots of fresh garlic, a couple tsp. of dried oregano, a small amount of white vinegar, lemon juice, worchestershire sauce and Spanish olive oil. I do emulsify it in the blender so it doesn’t seem too oily. Thanks for the suggestion of using canola oil. I will try that next time.

    • Amanda

    I’ve never thought to use the Microplane for garlic – I guess I’d have to watch my fingers, though.
    I love a salad like this and it is so easily turned into a main meal with the addition of protein – either meat, poultry, shellfish or cheese – that is feels a bit like cheating, but in a good way!

    • june2

    My mother was notorious for embarassing us (until we passed the age of teenage mortification) by asking for a wedge of lemon or a branch of parsley after garlic meals out…She would eat the lemon peel or the entire stem of parsley, swearing it cleansed her breath of the garlic. It worked – until the next day when her pores exuded whatever garlic she’d eaten.

    • Anna

    i do love raw garlic…french people are on le regime?? i thought they were thin naturally and easily, while eating loads of cheese and wine? my world (and ambition to move to france as a weight loss technique) is crumbling around me…

    • Ann

    Hi there David! It looks absolutely delicious and I’m a fan of Olive Oil…I love the nutty taste. When it gets too hot in the summer – a nice, fresh, tasty salad is a delight! Lovely – as always!

    • Phyllis Kirigin

    This salad is one I make all the time. The dressing is pretty much a standard French dressing with the addition of lemon juice in place of vinegar. I, too, like to use a combination of extra virgin olive oil and a neutral oil (I prefer peanut oil) especially when the acid is fresh lemon juice. It makes a light dressing perfect for delicate greens.

    • Gavrielle

    I’ve never understood the thing about EVOO tasting too strong – I don’t even like olives and yet EVOO never tastes very olive-y to me even when I’m dipping things in it. I second @Karen Brown’s recommendation of our lovely local New Zealand avocado oil, both for salads/dipping and also for cooking (it has a higher smoke point than olive oil).

    • Carolyn Z

    I love to eat a big salad when the CSA box is here the first night in season. We take a big plate, fill it with lettuce or arugula pieces, slice heirloom tomatoes over the top, and add whichever herbs we get. Dressing over the top with goat cheese; my favorite is the kind from Sonoma county with herbs or the purple haze variety. I prefer white wine vinegar and canola oil. Press the garlic and mince what is left. A nice hunk of artisan bread from Feel Good Bakery. If we have time, steamed beets too. It’s really satisfying. Usually not enough time for beets.

    • Jean

    First time writing from Mill Valley, California , one of the iconic centers of organic veggies and meats… this was my “after work” exercise today: walked downtown for an hour stroll of the village with a stop for a local cocktail, then into the Mill Valley Market for the Sonoma goat cheese and a package of their in house made carmalized almonds to fill out my Marin Organic lettuce/arugla chopped salad with Hass avacado, homegrown radishes, grape tomatoes (still lots of fog here in the SF Bay Area), shaved carrots and scallions…..vinagrette with a bit of sugar…Paris, you do not know what you are missing! Indeed 2 weeks in the Marais this May going to the Marche Aligre…could not replicate what we have here in the Bay Area. David, you are an inspiration (and a very fun author) but I am sure this lack of fresh raw veggies in salad thing drives you crazy. Plus lots of chewy food satisfies the “full meal: factor and leaves you at your normal weight! On the other hand, the cheese, the chocolat, the saucisson…such a treat!

    • Judy

    Hi David- thanks for sharing of yourself in your terrific blog. I am a late bloomer and just happened onto the world of food blogs recently. I love talking about food, shopping for it (I have been observed fondling the eggplants in the market), preparing it (including desserts,of course), reading about it and esp eating it and sharing it with others.
    Your chopped salad is very close to the type of thing I love to make. I also like to omit or lessen the lettuce and add a grain/carb like brown rice, orzo, Israeli couscous or quinoa (just started using that and love it and yes, I know it ain’t a grain which makes me love it more). Also I usually add sliced green onion and maybe a fresh herb like dill, Italian parsley or basil.
    A few nights ago I read your post on food blogging from your presentation at food bloggers camp. Wow – really comprehensive and insightful and I am so glad there are generous people like you out there serving as an excellent resource for neophytes like me. Bloggers camp sounds like an exciting and probably overwhelming event and I can’t help but get a visual of lots of people in flannel shirts sitting around picnic tables in the woods. Maybe one day I’ll join in, but first I have to improve my camera skills, commit to a name and figure out all this computer stuff. Yes, I intend to join the already swollen ranks of food bloggers and I thank you and others for inspiring me to just get to it.

    • Bonoca

    Nigella Lawson (The Domestic Goddess) always uses a rasp style grater on her cooking show. Always thought that was a great idea (she also uses it for grating fresh ginger). Just use an extra large garlic clove so you don’t whack your fingers when you get to the nubs :-)

    • Rene Bien

    I just discovered your inspiring site. I have been dreaming of spending a year in Paris with my daughter, age 10, to soak of the food and art–two of my long standing passions and how I have made my living for the last 20 years.

    I have used a rasp grater for years for garlic and ginger. I have recently been making tea with the ginger which is potent and with a little added honey and lemon, delicious and therapeutic for colds and general aches and pains.I use the back of spoon to peel the ginger instead of knife, which wastes a lot of ginger. The spoon technique quickly takes the rough peel off and preserves the flesh.

    • Jessica

    I made this salad for lunch today, and it was great. Tangy, and with the perfect amount of garlic – I didn’t even need gum afterwards!

    • nilda

    You aresooo right David.
    I love garlic, I find it gives a real kick to most recipes. And we can use the amount that makes us feel comfortable.

    I also use olive oil except when frying. For those who like to take good care of their health, olive oil will help with their good cholesterol levels.

    I’ve learned that when one travels restaurant research is as important as the hotels we might visit. Now that we are not longer in our thirties, when we go to Paris we’ve found various places where to eat healthy meals, cooked with not too much butter or cream.

    BARCELONA–When visiting Barcelona you can go to La Boqueria Market. I’m crazy about the place.There you will find, colorful vegetables, fish, fruits and lots of small restaurants inside the building. They sells the freshest of Barcelona food there.

    Or you could go to El Corte Ingles, in Barcelona, which is a very large department store. In the top floors they have different style restaurants, cafeterias, bars, serve yourself cafeterias. The food can be affordable if you eat in the “serve yourself” section. You’ll enjoy your meal among the polite Barcelonians. We always go there when we visit.

    Try to seat by the window and you will have the most beautiful view of the city, and it is free!

    I love Paris and also Barcelona!

    –El Corte Ingles
    Plaça Catalunya, 14 Barcelona, 08007
    Eixample –
    Passeig de Gràcia

    –La Boqueria
    –C/ LA RAMBLA, 91
    08002 Barcelona, Spain
    933 182 584
    Open Mon-Sat 8am-8:30pm
    Subway: Liceu

    • Sarahb1313

    Love the veggie salad and I will often use a mandoline on the harder veggies which can give it a more “slaw” effect.

    First time I used the coarse microplane with garlic I took off quite a bit of skin- it brought them down so fast! But I do love it.

    That dressing is great too- thanks!!

    • Lynn

    Sounds tasty! I’m still enjoying your chicken mango slaw from last year even though Seattle has had two days of summer/salad weather so far. Love the microplane for so many uses – garlic, citrus peel and fresh wasabi.

    • Jeanne

    This dressing is fabulous on a cold lentil salad :) with chopped olives, shredded carrots and other veggies…. I first made this lentil salad from Julia Child’s Way to Cook and have been hooked ever since (because I love lentils); time to branch out!

    • Jean Marie

    We often have big salads for dinner. Sometimes, it’s just a green salad and other times (like you) it’s a “kitchen sink” salad with lots of goodies in it. I had lunch at a Lebanese restaurant here in DC last week. The food is delicious but full of garlic. They actually had little plastic cups and bottles of mouthwash in the restrooms. Nice touch and much better than having a smoke afterward!

    • Patty

    Made this dressing tonight to complement my farmer’s market finds (wild arugula, amazing cherry tomatoes, green beans – blanched) — topped it off with parmesan shavings — it was sublime!

    (the only change I made was to cut back a bit on the salt)

    • Meryl

    I had many a Salade Composee when I lived in Paris eons ago. I can’t remember everything that was in it, but I remember beets, corn, tomatoes, cucumber, and I think there were radishes and shredded carrots, and a few other ingredients. Could there have been chickpeas in it? It was always lightly tossed with a perfect vinaigrette, and served with baguette slices. Mmmmmmm.

    • Kristen | Pixelated Crumb

    Well, it’s a good thing Kathy (or any French folks for that matter) isn’t coming over to my place for dinner because if she balks at 2 cloves, I don’t know what she’d do when she saw how much garlic we put in our food. We’re roasting a whole head of it right now for our garlic orange aioli….

    This salad is the perfect ode to a hot and sticky day like today (unlike turning the oven to 400 to roast garlic – what were we thinking?). Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Amélie

    If you like garlic in salad dressing, allow me to recommend this one:
    It’s a simple kale salad with lemon, garlic, parmesan and olive oil in the dressing. Delicious! I served it with store-bought roasted chicken, which you might appreciate, given your last post.

    • Roy

    thanks for the inspiration…the garlic vinaigrette was amazing. I am always hesitant to add garlic to a salad except Caesar and was suspicious of using 2 whole cloves; but I threw caution to the wind since the garlic was fresh and juicy and I was not disappointed. I was lucky to have beautiful green-market lettuces, tomatoes, beans, and potatoes a bit of gorgonzola, some leftover grilled baby zucchini and I topped it off with poached eggs. A perfect dinner on a very warm summer night.

    • Season with Reason

    Love recipes that are so easily customized! People often overlook the possibilities when using smaller cuts with ingredients like broccoli and cauliflower. Even raw, which prepared correctly, they are tender and refreshing. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Marie Leon

    David I loved this Salad. You are right we all are in search of more vegetables. I found this great recipe that combined with this salad makes a complete vegetable dinner.

    Thanks for your inspiration!



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