Mixed Greens with Bruschetta topped with Goat Cheese and Fig-Olive Tapenade

Salads are the perfect vehicle for making your own recipe! In fact, almost anything could be made into a salad.

From a culinary perspective, there are many different types of salads:

  • Appetizer salads – stimulate appetite with flavors and appearance but don’t fill
  • Accompaniment salad– must complement the main dish; should be light and flavorful
  • Main-Course salad– should contain a substantial portion of protein
  • Separate-Course salad– cleanse palate and refresh appetite; must be light
  • Dessert Salads – sweet and contain fruits, gelatin and nuts

The structure of a salad should include the following components:

  • Base or Underliner
  • Body
  • Garnish – edible decorative item added for eye appeal – simple
  • Dressing – seasoned liquid added to the body of salad for flavor, tartness, spiciness and moistness

Salads can be classified into the following categories:

  • Green Salads
  • Vegetable, Grain, Legume and Pasta Salads
  • Bound salads – held together with a dressing such as mayo
  • Fruit Salads
  • Composed Salads
  • Gelatin Salads
    • Gelatin dissolves in water at 100* and is mixed with cold liquid to avoid lumping; For flavored gelatin sweetened with sugar, use 24 oz of gelatin per gallon of water; For unflavored gelatin, use 2.5 oz per gallon of liquid; The setting power is weakened by acids so salads need more gelatin; Raw pineapple and papaya shouldn’t be added to gelatin  

The incredible diversity of salad greens available makes salad recipes easy to create. You can choose from wonderful offerings such as:

Iceberg Romaine or Cos Boston Bibb or Limestone
Loose-leaf Escarole or Broad-leaf Endive Chicory or Curly Endive Frisee
Belgian endive or Witloof Chicory Chinese Cabbage Spinach Watercress
Arugula Mesclun – mixture of tender baby lettuce Baby Lettuces Sprouts
Microgreens Tatsoi Mizuna – Japanese mustard greens Mache – corn salad, lamb’s lettuce/tongue, field salad
Radicchio Treviso Dandelion Greens

To enhance the flavor of your base ingredients, prepare one of the following types of dressings:

  • Oil and vinegar – ratio for vinaigrette is 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar
  • Mayonnaise-based – lecithin in egg is stabilizer
  • Cooked dressing – similar to mayo but made with starch thickener

And even when it comes to oil, you have so many choices to make your own recipe:

    • Corn – golden color but almost tasteless
    • Cottonseed, soybean, canola and safflower – all tasteless and commonly used for salad oil blends
    • Peanut – more expensive but provides a mild yet unique flavor
    • Olive – very distinctive flavor and aroma; while much more expensive, extra virgin is the best because it’s made from the first press of the olives
    • Walnut – very special taste but expensive and highly perishable
    • Winterized – treated to remain clear when chilled

Vinegar (or other acids such as citrus) provide further options for customization:

    • Cider – made from apples; brown and sweet
    • White – distilled and purified so neutral flavor
    • Wine – white or red wine-like flavor
    • Flavored – another product added
    • Sherry – made from sherry wine
    • Balsamic – dark brown; wine vinegar aged in wood barrels

To get ideas for how to start making your own dressing recipes, check out this post:


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