Is there anything better that the ripple-y leaves of little gem lettuce? I think not. And this Little Gem Salad proves that. The small divots in the sweet leaves are the perfect vehicle for holding onto creamy balsamic vinaigrette. Pair the two with juicy orange segments, crunchy Persian cucumbers and the most delicious savory granola for a restaurant-worthy little gem salad!

The Beauty of Little Gem Lettuce

Little Gem lettuce is a small, compact variety of lettuce with crisp, slightly sweet leaves. Resembling a small romaine lettuce, the outer leaves are tender and darker in color and the inner leaves are lighter in color, very crisp and sweeter.

Little gem lettuce is perfect for side salads and starter salads and is incredibly beautiful, making it popular on many restaurant menus.

little gem lettuce leaves topped with orange segments, chunks of granola and sliced cucumbers in a large buttery-yellow serving bowl.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Little Gem Lettuce: when in doubt, check your local farmers’ market. If you can’t find it there, I have good luck getting it at my Trader Joe’s and sometimes Whole Foods. Make sure to thoroughly wash the lettuce! This tight heads have a tendency to hold onto dirt.
  • Mini Cucumber: also called Persian Cucumbers, are one of my favorite vegetables to eat. They are incredibly crunchy and have a nice mild flavor. If you aren’t keen on regular cucumbers, you may like these.
  • Oranges: any winter citrus will work here, but I find oranges work the best. I recommend segmenting them for the best texture and presentation.
  • Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette: my restaurant-style balsamic vinaigrette is blended until lusciously creamy and emulsified. For this you will need good olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a clove of garlic, Dijon, honey, salt and pepper.
  • Savory Granola: Aside from the little gem lettuce, this savory granola makes the salad. It’s a true delight! Feel free to riff on the granola and use whatever nuts and seeds you have on hand or like best. For my version, you will need oats, almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, za’atar, honey and olive oil.

Serve With

More Salad Recipes to Try

Little Gem Salad Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Yield 4 side dish servings
Category Salad
Cuisine American


Restaurant-worthy Little Gem Salad featuring a creamy balsamic vinaigrette, bright citrus, and a savory granola.


  • kosher salt & black pepper

Savory Granola

  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup chopped raw almonds
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • ½ teaspoon honey

Little Gem Salad

  • 5 cups chopped little gem lettuce, washed and spun dry
  • 2 large oranges, segmented
  • 2 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced


Savory Granola

  • Heat oven to 350ºF with rack set in middle position. Like a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup oats, ¼ chopped raw almonds, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon za'atar, 2 teaspoons chia seeds, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  • In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey.
  • Drizzle oil-honey mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine.
  • Transfer oat mixture to prepared sheet pan. Using a second piece of parchment, paress granola into a thin and compact layer.
  • Bake granola until golden brown and fragrant, 25–28 minutes.
  • Let cool on sheet pan then break into large pieces.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 1 clove garlic, 2 teaspoons Dijon, ½ teaspoon honey and ¼ teaspoon salt until emulsified and smooth. Season to taste with lots of black pepper.

Little Gem Salad

  • In a large serving bowl, toss 5 cups chopped little gem lettuce with desired amount of vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange orange segments, sliced cucumbers and savory granola over top. Serve immediately.


Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 
Balsamic vinaigrette can be stored in a glass airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let the vinaigrette sit out for 15 minutes before stirring and using. 


Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
little gem lettuce leaves topped with orange segments, chunks of granola and sliced cucumbers in a large buttery-yellow serving bowl.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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