John Larrysson's Kitchen: The Garden Salad

In the last article I introduced salads. This time I will cover the garden salad, also called a green salad. This is what most people think of as a salad. Most of the salad is edible leaves, with a few additions to make the salad more interesting. 

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If cold cooked chicken is added to a garden salad it becomes a chicken salad. The garden salad is a useful base for expanding many savoury foods. Possible star ingredients include various cooked meats, but also seafood, pasta, cheeses, nuts, cooked vegetables and so on. No matter what addition is used, the dish is only called a salad because one starts with a salad and makes it fancy with the addition of a star ingredient. Just like a movie with only a star actor is not a movie, but a monologue, a chicken salad without the leafy salad is just some pieces of meat.

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Leaves used for these salads include the many varieties of lettuce, as well as various other edible leaves. Salads can include many vegetable and herb leaves as well as the standard lettuce. Vegetable leaf examples include beet greens, spinach, mustard greens, watercress, green onion, dandelion greens and so on.... Herb examples include mint, basil, parsley, coriander and so on....

Popular vegetables additions are often chopped up and added. Examples include: asparagus, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, onion, sweet peppers (green, yellow or red), water chestnuts, mushrooms, cauliflower, radishes, turnip, beetroot, cabbage, parsnip and so on. Savoury examples include: meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, nuts, beans....

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To summarise, a garden salad is 

A cold mixture of leafy vegetables covered with a dressing. 

They often will have additional foods added on top to make the salad interesting. These may include bacon bits, cheese, thinly sliced vegetables and so on. Certain combinations of additions and dressings get special names, such as a Caesar salad*. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it contains "lettuce, garlic, croutons, and anchovies, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, raw or coddled egg, and parmesan cheese". 

A bowl of leaves is just a bowl of leaves; it also needs a dressing to make it a salad. 

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* The origin is disputed, but again according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin is "Probably the name of Caesar Cardini (1896-1956), Italian-born restaurateur in Tijuana, Mexico, who is said to have devised the salad in 1924." 

by John Larrysson [email protected]

A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for over two decades.

Related article: What is a salad?

John Larrysson's Kitchen: 


NOTE: Starting in 2016, this column has been published once every two weeks, on every other Tuesday.

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