CHAPTER 12 : SALAD AND SALAD DRESSINGS
Herba Salata, the Latin equivalent of salted greens, is what 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 17th
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
century that 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. These include:
- 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
- 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
- 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 two types of salad:
- Leaf/Simple or Green Salad
- Compound /Mixed Salad
A simple salad is a variety of one or more greens. A mild dressing such as a
Vinaigrette is used so the delicate taste of the greens is not masked.
Various types of greens are now available locally and would include:
- Oak Leaf
- Belgian endive
- Red/white/green 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
8. Add dressing just before serving along with garnish. Dressed greens wilt
Are made up of four parts:
BASE: normally on 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.
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, Olive oil with herbs, Sesame seed oil,
Walnut oil, peanut oil, corn oil, almond oil & soybean 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 MSG, Spice Powders,
Garlic, Proprietary Sauces, Fruit Juices & Cream.
GARNISH : Not an absolutely necessary part of the salad. The garnish is
meant to enhance the eye appeal of the dish. At times, the color
combinations of the ingredients used could be enough. Keep the garnish
simple…some crutons, chopped/whole nuts, grated cheese could be used. Try
not to use the mandatory chopped parsles/coriander leaves.
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
3. AMERICAN: Equal parts of oil and vinegar + salt. Pepper, english mustard
and additional sugar.
4. MAYONNAISE: Mayonnaise sauce thinned down with vinegar or lemon
5. VINAIGRETTE: 1 part vinegar : 2 parts olive oil + salt, pepper,
6. RAVIGOTTE: Vinaigrette + chopped chervil,chives, tarragon, capers and
7. GRIBICHE: Mayonnaise dressing + chopped gherkins, capers, chervil,
tarragon, 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
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
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.
THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME CLASSICAL SALADS. FIND OUT THEIR
COMPOSITION AND WRITE IT DOWN MENTIONING THE BASE, BODY, DRESSING
AND GARNISH. ALSO MENTION THE SOURCE OF YOUR INFORMATION
Head of Department, Food Production