My aunt once asked me what my favorite food was and I said salad. I remember the look of dismay on her face — I must have misspoken. Had I meant pasta? But as distinctly as I remember (and adore) my Italian grandmother’s pasta, the salad she would serve afterwards remains one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, despite its simplicity: just soft lettuce with oil, vinegar, salt and bread for dunking in any residue dressing.

Now salad is my go-to lunch on most days, but I’ve embellished Nan’s blueprint. Maybe I’ll use a bag of mixed leaves rather than a lettuce. Or I might add quartered radishes, slices of avo, capers, anchovies or the little sweet, spicy, piquant peppers you get in

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