So much variety exists among salads that it is somewhat difficult to give a comprehensive definition of this class of foods. In general, however, They are food mixtures either arranged on a plate or tossed and served with a moist dressing. A dish of green herbs or vegetables, sometimes cooked and usually chopped or sliced, sometimes mixed with fruit or with cooked and chopped cold meat, fish, etc. They are usually served with a dressing. It can be either hot or cold. The selection of salad ingredients depends upon the seasons. Salads are unique. They can either accompany the main course, act as an appetizer, served as an extra party dish, or just plain served alone. A high-protein salad, such as lobster salad, replaces the meat course, whereas, a light salad of vegetables or fruits may be used as an additional course. For the most part, salads take their name from their chief ingredient, as, for instance, chicken salad, tomato salad, pineapple salad, etc. Just what place salads have in the meal depends on the salad itself.
SALADS IN THE DIET
Salads are often considered to be a dish of little importance; that is, something that is added to a meal. While this is the case with meals composed of a sufficient variety of foods, salads have a definite place in the majority of households. Often there is a tendency to limit green vegetables or fresh fruits in the diet, but if the members of a family are to be fed an
ideal diet it is extremely important that some of them are included in each day’s meals. The most effective and appetizing way to include them in a meal is the serving of salads. One who gives much attention to the artistic side of the serving of food will often use a salad to carry out a color scheme in the meal. This is, of course, the least valuable use that salads have, but it is a point that should not be overlooked. The chief purpose of salads in a meal is to provide something that the rest of the foods served in the meal lack.
Although salads, through their variety, offer an opportunity to vary meals, it requires a little attention in selecting them if a properly balanced meal is to be served. Salads that are high in food value or contain ingredients similar to those found in the other dishes served in the meal, should be avoided with dinners or with other heavy meals. For instance, a fish or a meat salad should not be served with a dinner, for it would supply a quantity of protein to a meal that is already sufficiently high in this food substance because of the fact that meat also is included. Such a salad, however, has a place in a very light luncheon or supper, for it helps to balance such a meal. The best salad to be served with a dinner that contains a number of heavy dishes is a vegetable salad if enough vegetables are not already included, or a fruit salad, if the dessert does not consist of fruit. In case a fruit salad is selected, it is often made to serve for both the salad and the dessert course.
If the meal is a light one and the salad is to be served as the principal dish, it should be sufficiently heavy and contain enough food value to serve the purpose for which it is intended. On the other hand, when the meal is a heavy one it is always better to choose a lighter salad. For instance, with meat or fish as the main course of the meal, a fish, egg, or cheese salad would obviously be the wrong thing to serve. Instead, a light salad of vegetables or fruits should be selected for such a meal. It should be remembered that if the other dishes of a meal contain sufficient food value to make the meal properly nourishing, a salad containing a rich dressing will provide more than a sufficient supply of calories and consequently should be avoided. Another point that should not be neglected in selecting a salad is that it should be in contrast to the rest of the meal as far as flavor is concerned. While several foods acid in flavor do not necessarily unbalance a meal so far as food substances and food value are concerned, they provide too much of the same flavor to be agreeable to most persons. For instance, if the meal contains an acid soup, such as tomato, and a vegetable with a sour dressing, such as beets, then a salad that is also acid will be likely to add more of a sour flavor than the majority of personal desire.
COMPOSITION OF SALADS
One of the advantages of salads is that the ingredients from which they can be made are large in number. In fact, almost any cooked or raw fruit or vegetable, or any meat, fowl, or fish, whether cooked expressly for this purpose or leftover from a previous meal, may be utilized in the making of salads. The composition, as well as the total food value, of salads, depends entirely on the ingredients of which they are composed. An understanding of the composition of the ingredients used in salads will enable us to judge fairly accurately whether the salad is low, medium, or high in food value, and whether it is high in protein, fat, or carbohydrate. This matter is important and should receive consideration from all who prepare this class of the food.
Fruits, both canned and raw, are largely used in the making of salads. As with vegetables, almost any combination of them makes a delicious salad when served with the proper dressing. salads that are high in protein have for their basis, or contain, such ingredients as meat,
fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, nuts, or dried beans. As far as meats are concerned, they are not used so extensively in salads as are fruits and vegetables. The amount of protein such a salad contains naturally varies with the quantity of high-protein food that is used. The fat in salads is more often included as a part of the dressing than in any other way, but the quantity introduced may be very large. A French dressing or a mayonnaise dressing, as a rule, contains a sufficient proportion of some kind of oil to make the salad in which it is used somewhat high in fat. For the most part, salads do not contain carbohydrate in any quantity. If fruits are used, the salad will, of course, contain a certain amount of sugar. Salads in which potatoes,
peas, beets, and other vegetables are used also contain starch or sugar in varying quantities. However, with the exception of potato salad, salads are probably never taken as a source of carbohydrate. In majority of salads, mineral salts are an important ingredient. Green-vegetable salads are the most valuable sources of mineral salts, and fruit salads come next. Vegetable and fruit salads serve to supply cellulose in the diet. Unless the meals contain sufficient cellulose in some other form, the use of such salads is an excellent way to introduce this material. Of course, the salads composed of foods high in cellulose are lower in food value than others, but the salad dressing usually helps to make up for this deficiency.
In addition to the ingredients used in the preparation of salads, dressings usually forms an important part. An accompaniment of some kind is generally served with salads to make them more attractive and more pleasing to the taste. When a salad is properly made, a salad dressing of some kind is usually added to the ingredients that are selected for the salad. Various salad dressings may be made to serve with salads. The kind of dressing to select depends both on the variety of salad served and on the personal preference of those to whom it is served. Some of these contain only a few ingredients and are comparatively simple to make, while others are complex and involve considerable work in their making. These vary greatly as to ingredients and consequently as to composition, but most of them contain considerable fat and therefore increase the food value of the salad. Sometimes these dressings contain no fat, and other times they have for their basis sweet or sour cream, but usually they are made so that they are somewhat acid to the taste. A number of recipes for salad dressings are included in this Ebook. See the subtitle “SALAD DRESSINGS AND THEIR PREPARATION” at the bottom.
When the kind of salad to be served is decided on, the selection and preparation of the materials are the next matters to receive attention. Very often materials that are on hand are utilized in this way, but if it is possible to select the ingredients expressly for the salad, they should be very carefully chosen. Any kind of salad, but particularly a vegetable or a fruit salad, becomes much more attractive if it is made with ingredients that are in good condition and that are attractive in appearance. They should therefore be fresh and crisp and never mushy, wilted or limp. In the making of a salad, the cleaning of the ingredients used is a very important part of the work. While nothing should be wasted in the process of preparation, decayed or discolored leaves, stems, or parts of fruits and vegetables should, of course, be removed. Every lettuce leaf and every part of other salad vegetables should be looked over carefully and washed separately in cold water. To accomplish this, the stalks or leaves must be taken apart after the root is cut off. Then, before they are used, they should be examined carefully again in order to make sure that no small bugs nor worms and no dirt remain on them. It should be remembered that lettuce leaves bruise and break easily and so must be handled carefully if the best appearance is desired. After fruits and vegetables have been carefully cleaned, they are ready to be peeled and cut into pieces of the size desired for the salad. An effort should always be made to have the pieces equal in size, similar in shape, and not too small. They should be peeled in an economical way, but at the same time should be prepared as attractively as possible. When nuts are to be used in a salad, they should never be ground in a grinder; rather, they should be chopped or cut into small pieces with a knife. After being so prepared, they should be added to the salad just before it is put on the table. This is a matter that should not be overlooked, for if the salad is allowed to stand very long after the nuts are added they will discolor the dressing and cause the salad to become dark and gray looking.
Several different ways of serving salads are in practice. Perhaps the most convenient method of serving this dish is to prepare individual portions of it on salad plates in the kitchen and then set these on the table at each person’s place. If a simple table service is followed, the salad may be put on the table at the same time as the rest of the meal. The correct position for the salad plate is at the left-hand side of the dinner plate and just a little nearer to the edge of the table than the bread-and-butter plate. The plates on which salad is served should be large enough to prevent the difficulty in eating that would be experienced if the plate were a trifle small. It should therefore be remembered that the salad plate is the next larger in size to the bread-and-butter plate. In case individual salads are to be prepared, the plate should first be garnished with whatever vegetable green is selected for this purpose. If lettuce is to be used, a single leaf, several very small center leaves, or a small quantity of shredded lettuce will be sufficient, for a great deal of garnish is never desirable. In case the leaves are very large, one may be divided in half and each part utilized. Then the salad ingredients, which have already been combined, should be piled in a neat heap on top of the garnish either with or without the salad dressing. If the salad dressing is not mixed with the materials, a spoonful or two of it should be placed on top of them. Another method of serving this dish is to place the entire salad on a rather large, deep plate, such as a chop plate or a regular salad dish, and then serve it at the table whenever it is desired. When this is done, the dish that is used should be well garnished with a bed of vegetable green in the same way that a small individual plate is garnished. Then the salad ingredients should be nicely arranged on this bed, and the dressing, if it has not already been mixed with them, should be poured over the whole. In serving salad in this way, there is much more chance of arranging the ingredients symmetrically and garnishing the salad attractively than when it is served on small plates. The large plate containing the salad, together with the small salad plates, should be placed before serving the salad. When it is served, a leaf of the lettuce or other green used for garnishing should first be put on each salad plate and the salad should be served on this. A large fork and a large spoon are needed when salad is served in this manner.
In a dinner, the salad is generally served as a separate course, but in such a meal as luncheon it may be used as the main dish. If it is used as a separate course, it should be served immediately after the dinner course has been removed from the table. The salad plate should be
placed directly before the person served. Forks especially designed with a wide prong on one side and known as ‘salad forks’ are the right type of fork to serve with this dish, but if none are available ordinary table forks of a small size may be used. It should be remembered that the salad should not be cut with the knife at the table, but should be eaten entirely with the fork.