Salad wants to be a part of your life, and there are many reasons to let it in. When you’re short on time, few main dishes come together more quickly. When you’re trying to eat better, salad is the easiest way to get vegetables into your diet. And when you want a side dish, salad goes with almost everything.

   Salad also helps you learn and practice the most basic kitchen skill —rinsing, draining, chopping, slicing, whisking, and tossing— without much risk of messing anything up. It doesn’t matter if you tear lettuce into 1-inch or 2-inch pieces or if you slice tomatoes thickly or thinly the results will be fine in any case.

   What does matter, of course, is the quality of your ingredients. When the focus is on mostly raw vegetables, seasoned only with olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper, every component has to pull its weight. Eating salads will teach you to recognize great produce, superior oil, flavorful vinegar, and excellent add-ons.

   You’ll discover how to choose greens and use them to quickly and easily produce a classic tossed salad—and much more: You’ll discover that your own salad dressing is not only cheaper and better than bottled dressing but almost as easy. You’ll explore how to turn salads into meals by adding sturdier vegetables, beans, grains, cheese, and even fish, poultry, or meat. And in the process you’ll learn that salads are endlessly variable additions to your daily table.

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