Little Gems With Garlicky Lemon and Pistachio

October 18, 2019 Updated: October 19, 2019

This is the salad of my dreams. Garlicky, bracingly acidic, clean, and crunchy. The denim jacket of salads, it complements just about everything. Dress it up or dress it down, eat it alone or with 24 other things. To say anything else about this salad would be doing it a disservice, because every minute reading another word about it is a minute you’re not going to the store to get ingredients for this salad to make immediately.

Little Gem lettuces may seem like a myth, but they do exist and you can find them. If you can’t, a head of romaine, or even my best friend, iceberg lettuce, will do the trick; the point is that you should seek out a lettuce with adequate sturdiness and abundant crunch. Similarly, if pistachios aren’t your thing, you can use most any other nut, including but not limited to almonds or walnuts.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios, almonds, or walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4–6 heads of little gem lettuce (1 1/2–2 pounds) or 1 large head of romaine or iceberg, quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, tender leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt

Finely chop one of the lemons, taking care to avoid and remove all seeds. Zest and juice the remaining lemon; set aside. 

Toast the pistachios in a small skillet over medium heat until they’re just starting to smell toasty but before they turn brown, 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a medium bowl; let cool. 

Add the lemon zest, chopped lemon, garlic, and olive oil to the pistachios and season with salt and pepper. 

Scatter the little gems onto a large serving platter or shallow bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice and a bit of olive oil until all the bits get some love; season with salt and pepper. 

Spoon the pistachio mixture over, followed by the herbs and flaky salt. 

Do Ahead

Pistachio mixture sans garlic and whole lemon can be made a day ahead. (Lemon can get bitter as it sits, so I prefer to add it just before using.)

Reprinted from “Nothing Fancy.” Copyright 2019 by Alison Roman. Photographs copyright 2019 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.