CHAPTER 8: SALADS AND SALAD DRESSINGS
Herba Salata, the Latin equivalent of salted greens, is where the term salad is
derived from. This suggests that the earliest salads were mixtures of pickled greens,
seasoned with salt. This culinary variation evolved by the time of Imperial Rome into
mixtures of greens served with a fresh herb garnish and an oil-vinegar dressing. The
Century brought more additions to the humble culinary creation called the
salad. Lettuces of various types were used as a base with some type of meat, poultry
and mixed vegetables placed on the top. It was in the early 20th
Escoffier carried the art of salad making to new heights. The possibilities for salad
combinations are limited only by the imagination of the chef. They may include leaf
greens, raw and cooked vegetables, fruit, meat, legumes and rice and pasta based
salads, to mention just a few.
In many food service operations, salads are the items that are given the least
attention and consideration, both in planning and preparation. Chefs often erroneously
perceive it as a simple task that needs little or no training. This attitude results in
salads of a poor quality. Certain factors need to be considered while planning a salad.
- Fresh ingredients
- Attractive plating
- Proper textures
- Eye appeal
- Well balanced flavor
The wide variety of salads makes it difficult to state exact rules for the proper
preparation of salads. However, there are some rules of thumb that must be followed.
- Utilize the freshest ingredients and specially those in season.
- Light leaf vegetables should be tossed in a dressing just before the service.
- Pour enough dressing to season; not drown the main ingredient.
- Use a suitable container to present the salad.
- Never overcrowd the salad plate.
- Accommodate the salad within the dish and not on or over the edge.
Today, the salad is considered to be a popular item. It is the favorite of weight
watchers and those on a diet. It is also a versatile dish and can be served as:
- An appetizer
- An entrée
- A main course
- An accompaniment to the main course
- A dessert
- On the buffet as part of the salad bar
- As a sandwich filling
- As a plate garnish
TYPES OF SALAD
There are three types of salad:
- Leaf/Simple or Green Salad
- Compound /Mixed Salad
- Classical Salads
A simple salad is a variety of one or more greens. A mild dressing such as a light
Vinaigrette is used so the delicate taste of the greens is not masked. Various types of
greens are now available locally and would include:
- Cos - Oak Leaf
- Romaine - Ruby
- Bibb - Roquette
- Iceberg - Frezie
- Limestone - Boston
- Curly - Crisphead
- Chinese - Butterhead
OTHER LEAFY VEGETABLES:
- Belgian endive
- Red/white cabbage
- Cress/Water Cress
Leaf salads are usually served as an accompaniment to the main course and rarely as
any other course.
BASIC PROCEDURE FOR LEAF SALADS:
1. Wash the greens thoroughly in several changes of water.
2. Drain the greens well. Poor draining will result in watered down dressing.
3. Crisp the greens. Place them in a colander in the refrigerator.
4. Cut or tear into bite size pieces.
5. Mix the greens well. Toss gently till uniformly mixed.
6. Plate the salads. Use cold plates please! Not those just out of the dishwasher.
8. Add dressing just before serving along with garnish. Dressed greens wilt rapidly.
Are made up of four parts:
BASE: normally one/combination of the above greens. It gives definition to the
placement of the salad on the plate. A green lettuce leaf is used as an under liner for
the salad. Shredded greens can also be utilized and this will give height and dimension
to the plate. The base also absorbs excess dressing preventing it from running around
the plate during the presentation and the meal. However, the base is not always
necessary. A cole slaw made up of leafy vegetable (cabbage) need not have a base at
all. Beetroot salad whose color might run, can do without the base.
BODY: This is the main ingredient in the salad and will generally give the name to the
salad. The body must be the main ingredient and will be placed on top of the base. The
body could be made up of just on ingredient or in some cases, several.
DRESSING: is used to enhance and add to the taste and flavor of the body. It makes
the salad more palate pleasing. The dressing may be tossed with the body of the salad,
or served as an accompaniment poured over the salad at the table. The dressing is
made up of four parts:
- THE OIL: This could include a plain refined, odorless oil or a more exotic one
such as Avocado oil, Olive oil, Sesame seed oil, Walnut oil, Peanut oil, Corn oil,
Almond oil & Soybean oil. One could also have a flavored oil such as chili oil, herb
oil or garlic oil.
- THE ACIDIC MEDIUM: Is normally vinegar, red or white. However, Lemon/Lime
juice, Yogurt (curds), Red and White Wine can also be used. The popular vinegars
include Cider Vinegar, Malt Vinegar, Wine Vinegar, Wine Vinegar, Chili Vinegar
and Rice Vinegar.
- THE SEASONING: Would include varieties of salt.
- THE FLAVOR ENHANCERS: These will include Spice Powders, Herbs,
Garlic, Proprietary Sauces, Fruit Juices & Cream.
CLASSICAL SALAD DRESSINGS:
1. FRENCH: 1 part vinegar : 2 parts oil + salt , pepper, french mustard.
2. ENGLISH: 2 parts vinegar : 1 part oil + salt, pepper, caster sugar, english mustard.
3. AMERICAN: Equal parts of oil and vinegar + salt. Pepper, english mustard and
4. MAYONNAISE: Mayonnaise sauce thinned down with vinegar or lemon juice.
5. VINAIGRETTE: 1 part vinegar : 2 parts olive oil + salt, pepper, english/french
6. RAVIGOTTE: Vinaigrette + chopped chervil,chives, tarragon, capers and parsley.
7. GRIBICHE: Mayonnaise dressing + chopped gherkins, capers, chervil, taragon,
parsley and strips of hard boiled egg white.
8. ACIDULATED CREAM: Fresh cream + fresh lemon juice and salt
9. THOUSAND ISLAND : Mayonnaise dressing + a little chili sauce and chopped red
pimento, chives and green peppers
10. LEMON DRESSING: Substitute the vinegar with lemon juice add oil according to
taste plus salt, pepper and preferred mustard.
Ideally, the garnish will embellish the salad. However, it is not necessary to always
have a garnish. Sometimes, if the vegetables are neatly cut and have retained their
colors, the salad will look good on its own. Like the base, the garnish is optional.
GUIDELINES FOR ARRANGING SALADS
Perhaps even more than with most other foods, the appearance and arrangement of a
salad is essential to its quality. The colorful variety of salad ingredients gives the
creative chef an opportunity to create miniature works of art on the salad plate.
1. Keep the salad off the rim of the plate: Think of the rim as the frame of a picture.
Keep the salad within the frame. Select the right plate for the portion size, not
too large or not too small.
2. Strive for a good balance of color: Pale iceberg lettuce is pretty plain and colorless
but can be livened up by mixing in some darker greens and perhaps a few shreds of
carrot, red cabbage or other colored vegetables such as peppers. On the other
hand don’t overdo it and go over board. Three colors are usually more than enough.
Shades of green give a good effect and too many colors will look messy.
3. Height makes a salad attractive: Ingredients mounded onto a plate are more
interesting than that lying flat. Lettuce cups as a base adds height. Often, just a
little height is enough.
4. Cut the ingredients neatly: Ragged or sloppy cutting makes the whole salad look
unattractive and haphazard.
5. Make every ingredient identifiable: The pieces should be large enough for the
customer to identify each ingredient. Don’t pulverize everything. Bite size pieces
are the rule. Seasoning ingredients like onion could be chopped fine.
6. Keep it simple: A simple, natural arrangement is pleasant to view. An elaborate
design, a contrived arrangement, or a cluttered plate will defeat the purpose.