Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Let’s count the ways this salad is classified as gourmet in my book:

1) It comes from my sister-in-law, Mary, who is the epitome of classy gourmet. (Can you tell I have some talented sisters-in-law or what??)
2) It involves homemade croutons which can be classified as manna from above, in my opinion. I love me some homemade croutons. (Check out the homemade crouton how-to below the recipe.)
3) It is topped with a delicious homemade red wine vinaigrette that my husband may or may not love enough to drink straight from the jar. Sick, but true.
4) It looks so beautiful you could serve this at a dinner party and I swear everyone would forget what was served as the main dish. It’s that good.
5) It has such a unique combination of add-ins that compliment each other perfectly (my favorite bites? sweet, juicy pear, tender greens and Parmesan cheese…oh, yum).
6) It involves bacon. Enough said.

You may think salad is just plain ol’ salad, but wait until you try this gem. You just might decide to go gourmet every day.

Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Yield: Serves 8-10

Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Note: Mary serves this with candied nuts as well. I am not a huge fan of sugary sweet nuts but if that is your fancy, feel free to throw some in!


  • 10-12 cups mixed greens (I use the large rectuangular box from Sam’s Club)
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 ripe, fresh pears, sliced thinly (you can also use fresh strawberries, raspberries, or apples)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced Parmesan cheese (I grab my big block of Parmesan cheese and use my vegetable peeler to slice of thin peels of Parmesan)
  • 1 large carrot (or about 5-6 baby carrots), thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 5-7 slices of bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups of homemade croutons (see below for a how-to*)
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette:
  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup red onions, finely grated (about 1/4 of a large red onion)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups canola oil


  1. For the salad, put mixed greens in a large salad bowl. Top with other ingredients and toss. Serve with red wine vinaigrette dressing below (or any other favorite salad dressing).
  2. For the dressing, add all ingredients except oil in a blender. Blend well. While processing, slowly add the canola oil and blend well. Transfer dressing to a jar or cruet. It keeps well in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks (although I’ve found it gets a little thick if it is too cold so I’ll pop it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to help thin it out before I use it if it has been in the refrigerator for several days).

Recipe Source: my sister-in-law, Mary

*Homemade Croutons:
Ok, the dealio with homemade croutons is that they are 100 times tastier than store-bought and require minimal effort. I don’t stress over what kind of bread to use. I open up my freezer and pull out baked rolls or homemade hamburger buns I’ve been storing there. A delicious rustic ciabatta loaf works well, too. Basically, I don’t think you can go wrong if you use a hearty, sturdy loaf or roll that won’t fall apart on you.

For today’s purpose, I am using some homemade buns I used with this recipe (subbing whole wheat for half the flour). Start by cutting them into about 1/2-inch strips.

My rolls were thick enough that I then took those strips and cut each slice in half again lengthwise, as shown.

Cut each strip into about 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes.

You’ll end up with a big pile of yummy bread cube goodness.

Place the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and oh yeah, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Drizzle the bread cubes with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss well with your hands so the cubes are evenly coated, for the most part.

Next, take about a teaspoon of coarse/kosher salt and sprinkle it over the bread cubes.

Do the same with about 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.

Toss again until the spices are evenly distributed. Then pop the croutons in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, checking often and baking until the cubes are golden brown and toasted.

Serve them on this gourmet green salad or your favorite salad and try not to let your kids eat too many as a snack or your salad will look a little sparse.

52 Responses to Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

  1. Tami says:

    Hi, Mel. Just confirming that there are two additions of Parmesan cheese in this recipe: 1/4 cup freshly grated AND 1/4 cup thinly sliced. Thanks so much!

  2. Flora says:

    can you use honey instead of sugar?

  3. Shannon says:

    Thank you so much! This is a new favourite in our house. We use apples and dried cranberries and it is fabulous. I’ve found that whisking a tablespoon of mayo in the dressing keeps the vinegar and oil from separating – no blender required.

  4. Teresa says:

    This is amazing! One of the best salads I have ever had. I left out the mushrooms, made with apples instead of pears. So, so good!

  5. Ashley says:

    oops just read that you recommended some 😉

  6. Ashley says:

    Hi Mel – You’re my go to guru for great recipes. Thanks for all the time and energy you put into your site!

    If I don’t have any leftover bread on hand to make the croutons with, with kind of bread would you recommend picking up at the store? Just a regular french loaf?


  7. Raquel says:

    I brought this salad to a family dinner once, and now the dressing is requested all the time. Everyone loves it, including me! I do reduce the sugar to 1 cup when I make it, and it still tastes wonderful to us. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  8. Betty says:

    Mel, I just made this dressing and it’s delicious! Mine turned out pink as where yours didn’t. What did I do wrong? It’s just got me stumped!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Betty – I think it’s just the pictures – these are pretty old ones with a lousy camera so the hue in the pictures is more orange-y thank pink but with the red wine vinegar it should have a pink hue.

  9. Marleen says:

    How far in advance can I fix the croutons? Is there another kind of oil I can substitute for the canola oil?

    • Mel says:

      You can try using olive oil or grapeseed oil. You can make the croutons several days in advance and store them in an airtight container (make sure they’ve cooled completely or else they’ll get soggy).

  10. Lachelle says:

    This was SO good! Thank you for dinner!

  11. Jill says:

    This looks delicious Mel! I love your blog and know I can make anything off of it and it will be delicious! Can you tell me how long I can store this dressing? The dressing recipes always make so much, and I feel like I end up wasting a lot. I never know how long they will keep in the fridge. Any good rules of thumb?

  12. Kimiko says:

    This salad is so delicious! I made this for dinner tonight, along with your braised brisket and salt crusted potatoes (I grabbed the recipes from your Fall menu…those menus are SO helpful!). We started with the salad, and my husband said he could eat just the salad for dinner because he loved it so much…and my husband is NOT a “just salad” kind of guy. I agree that candied nuts may be too sweet for this, so I added plain roasted pecans and it was perfect. Thanks for another keeper. 🙂

  13. Terry says:

    I just made these croutons. Oh my! I did exactly what you said . . . but, I used butter-flavored olive oil and sprinkled the cubes with fresh ground pepper and truffle salt. I really do not think I will have enough for salad, soup, anything. Guess I had better make more. I think I can find the 12 minutes it takes. Thanks for another great recipe!

  14. Nita says:

    Thanks for posting this great recipe! I had my husband’s family over for lunch yesterday, and I wasn’t sure what to make. I finally decided on herb roasted whole chicken, this gourmet salad and your French rolls. Everyone was in love with this salad and the rolls. They really liked the dressing. I also served your strawberry lemonade with the meal and they really liked that too. The whole meal was a great success. I have made a lot of your recipes and they are always good. I make your French rolls just about every week. I was nervous about making the salad and dressing for company since I hadn’t tried it before, but I’m so glad I did. Even my husband ( who doesn’t like salad) loved this salad. He said he would start eating salad because of how great the dressing was.

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  16. Logan says:

    Hey Mel! Long time follower and I love the new site:)
    Looking to make this salad for 30 people. Does this salad feed 8-10 as a side dish?

    • Mel says:

      Logan – hi! I would say this probably serves more along the lines of 6-8. I mean, a lot depends on how big your portions will be but I’d say it’s better to plan on it serving less than more.

  17. Christy B says:

    I just thought I’d brag about the most perfect batch of croutons I’ve ever turned out. I’m not sure how many are going to make it to the dinner table though… Thanks for the instructions. 🙂

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  19. Mary says:

    I made this for visiting family this weekend, and it was a hit–from the croutons to the dressing. I paired it with your brown sugar glazed pork tenderloin. No leftovers!

  20. Jill says:

    made this for Easter dinner–and it was my favorite part of the dinner! I don’t really love salads–but I LOVED this one. thanks!

  21. Meredith says:

    I made this salad and salad dressing for my family. It is AMAZING. We love the sweet onion flavor of the dressing. It is a family favorite for sure. I think my husband could also eat it from the jar. Thank you so much.

  22. Mel says:

    Nic – that’s funny that you are the first person for noticing the error! Yes, I usually put in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup craisins/dried cranberries. Thanks for pointing out that it is missing!

  23. Nic says:

    Hey Mel, as I was droooooling over the picture, I think I saw some dried cranberries in the salad but they’re not on the ingredient list. Do you just throw a few handfuls in? Thanks!

  24. I made this salad to accompany our dinner tonight, all the way down to the homemade croutons and the red wine vinaigrette. It was so, so, SO good! The sweetness of the dressing was a nice complement to the Dijon pork loin that came out of the crockpot. I will definitely make this salad again!

  25. Erin says:

    I was reading your blog over breakfast… And just had to make these croutons NOW! The are in the oven and looking great. I am going to put them in butternut squash soup for dinner. Yum!

  26. Liz D. says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I am making it for a family Christmas Dinner tonight and I can’t wait to eat it! I was out of red wine vinegar so I had to go to the store. I found something called Pomegranate champagne vinegar and wanted to experiment with it. Oh. My. Gosh! It adds such a yummy flavor to the dressing. I just thought I would share in case you wanted to try it!

  27. Deb says:

    Made this for company this weekend and then sat back and enjoyed the rave reviews 🙂 Such simple ingredients, yet combined together for such a tasty salad! I made those awesome croutons a day ahead, bagged them up and put them in the pantry and then forgot all about them when I actually made the salad – too bad, more for me! Next time I make the croutons (which will be soon because I’ve about snacked my way through this whole bag), I’ll probably use garlic salt in place of the kosher salt because I think that would add great flavor. And, the dressing was a touch sweet, so I’d probably cut back a bit on the sugar, but I will for sure be making the whole recipe again and again!

  28. Marla says:

    Hey Mel I am loving this salad.
    We would love if you submitted this recipe & any two other side dishes to this week of the Get Grillin’ event that Cookin’ Canuck and I am hosting 🙂

  29. Jessica DuRee says:

    I’ve gotten so many compliments on this salad. Thank you for posting it! I think the dressing is what makes it wonderful : )

  30. Reyna says:

    Why have I never made croutons before?! Now I know what to do with those stray buns and rolls and ends of bread! I made this to go along with the spiral stuffed rolls and honey-lime fruit salad and Colorado Creme (this is where I would insert a commercial that says, “this meal brought to you by Mel”!) for dinner last night. This is the perfect salad. I have my go-to salad recipe that I love, but frankly, am kind of tired of. This is easy enough to make as an everyday salad, but fancy enough to make the star of the show for sure. I think I’m going to break up with my old salad and go steady with this one.

  31. BertleMama says:

    I LOOOOOVE this salad and the dressing! Oh my goodness! I can’t tell you how many people I’ve given the recipe, and raved about your website to. This is already a staple in our house. soooo soooo good!!

  32. Carrie K says:

    I first had this last November when Mary brought it to the family Thanksgiving dinner and I fell in love with it then! Thanks for publishing the recipe! I just took it to a Memorial Day bbq and all the adults loved it! I even made the home-made croutons….so good!!!! Thanks Mel for all your fab recipes!

  33. Krista says:

    You are amazing! I just thought you should know that! I seriously look at your blog everyday now for ideas on what to make for dinner. Your food makes always looks so perfect!

  34. Bloom says:

    Looks fantastic – can’t wait to try it, especially the dressing.
    Thanks again for your posts at Bloom – we loved having you!
    Don’t be a stranger 🙂

  35. Norah B says:

    Yummy! I love salad and this one looks so good. I see this appearing on our menu very very soon.

  36. grace says:

    yep, i’d definitely consider this gourmet. i’d definitely be adding those candied nuts though, if i could keep from eating them before tossing them in. i’m pretty excited about the bacon and pear combination too–i don’t believe i’ve tried that particular duo. bravo to mary!

  37. Julie says:

    this sounds divine!!!!!!!!!!!!
    next time you make your own croutons drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar too, it adds soooo much to them! ever since I tried them I won’t go back to boughten ones, and my family won’t let me.

  38. Alicia says:

    That looks AMAZING! I love homemade croutons, too, and got ooh’s and aah’s over the heart-shaped ones I made for a Valentine’s Day dinner. I used a mini heart shaped tart cutter, but any mini cutter would do. Stars for 4th of July? Pumpkins for the fall? I love the chance to be creative.

    I’ll be trying this salad soon. Thanks!

  39. Laurie says:

    Yum Mel. This salad has 4 of the major salad food groups: fruit, greens, bacon and croutons! Ahhh, a well balanced salad if I ever saw one!

    I love salads with fruit … add in bacon and some homemade croutons and I’m sold. A very summery salad.

  40. Barbara says:

    Bacon and croutons? You’ve sold me right there with those two ingredients. Besides, there are pears in the salad…that makes it perfect. Hurrah for your sister-in-law!

  41. Is 1 1/2 cups of sugar right? Should it be 1/2 cup?

    • Mel says:

      DessertForTwo – the sugar amount is correct. There’s no doubt that this makes a sweet dressing, but the tart vinegar helps balance it out. By all means try reducing the sugar if you’d like – I just can’t guarantee the results! (Plus, it makes a lot so it isn’t like you are using 1 1/2 cups sugar to serve four people – this makes a little over a quart of dressing.)

  42. Kim in MD says:

    What a gorgeous salad! Your description of the salad is amazing (you really sold me when you mentioned bacon!), and your step-by-step tutorial for the croutons is awesome…I LOVE home-made croutons! I like to use a combo of white bread, wheat bread and pumpernickel when I make Caesar salad.

    I can’t wait to try this salad. You are very lucky to have such talented sister-in-laws, Mel! Thanks for sharing their talent with us! 🙂

  43. I love homemade croutons. I also am not a huge fan of dressing so I’m always look for delicious homemade ones.

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