Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Composed Salad with Apple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Composed salad

Sounds complicated and even more exotic in its original French—“salade composée”—but a composed salad is nothing more than an artful way to arrange your ingredients rather than tossing them together. Salade Niçoise and Cobb salad are two that are typically presented this way, but a composed salad can be made of any ingredients you choose—and it’s a great way to showcase fresh seasonal vegetables and even fruits. The following ingredients and directions are merely guidelines—let your imagination be your guide and remember that unusual combos can be delicious. Whatever you choose should have a flavorful dressing, so I’m including the recipe for one of my favorite vinaigrettes. It uses apple balsamic vinegar, a great change from classic balsamic of Modena.


For the vinaigrette:

  • 1⁄4 cup Apple Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crushed 
  • 1 small shallot, minced 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the platter, choose any combination:

  • Protein: pick 1 or 2, such as sliced chicken, hard-boiled egg halves, or strips of prosciutto
  • Cheese: pick 1 or 2 such as cubes of fresh mozzarella or aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, or thin rounds of goat cheese
  • Greens: pick 1 lettuce or another leafy green, like arugula or baby spinach
  • Vegetables: pick 3 or 4, raw, steamed, or grilled, such as asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and string beans
  • Fruit and nuts: pick 1 or more, such as grapes, apple or pear slices, raisins or another dried fruit, avocado, and almonds or walnuts 
  • Legumes: pick 1, such as cooked beans or chickpeas


Step 1

Make the vinaigrette: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, basil, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 2

Compose your salad: Rinse and pat dry all raw ingredients. Cut all ingredients into bite-size pieces or thin slices. Lettuces and other greens can be sliced into ribbons. Choose a large platter and place one ingredient at a time, going from left to right. 

Step 3

Place the vinaigrette on the side so each person can add as much or as little as they want.

Yields 4 servings