Types Of Salads

Today, the variety of salads on offer seems to be greater than ever in memory. Restaurants that once listed no more than two or three salads on their menu now devote an entire page to the category. New kinds of salads fill bin after bin in the prepared-food sections of supermarkets and delicatessens.

At the same time, more traditional salads have not lost their importance. In schools, hospitals, nursing homes, neighborhood diners, and mom-and-pop restaurants, cooks who may never have heard of mesclun still have to know how to clean a head of iceberg lettuce and how to prepare flavored gelatins.

The following classification of salad types describes the roles salads fill in modern menus.These categories apply to both traditional and modern recipes. Examples of both are included later in this chapter.

APPETIZER SALADS

Many establishments serve salads as a first course, often as a substitute for a more elaborate first course. Not only does this ease the pressure on the kitchen during service but it also gives the customers a satisfying food to eat while their dinners are being prepared.

In addition, more elaborate composed salads are popular as appetizers (and also as main courses at lunch) in many elegant restaurants.These often consist of a poultry, meat, or fish item, plus a variety of vegetables and garnishes, attractively arranged on a bed of greens.

Appetizer salads should stimulate the appetite.This means they must have fresh, crisp ingredients;a tangy, flavorful dressing;and an attractive,appetizing appearance.

Preportioned salads should not be so large as to be filling, but they should be substantial enough to serve as a complete course in themselves. (Self-service salad bars, of course,avoid this problem.) Tossed green salads are especially popular for this reason, as they are bulky without being filling.

The combination of ingredients should be interesting, not dull or trite. Flavorful foods like cheese, ham, salami, shrimp, and crabmeat, even in small quantities, add appeal. So do crisp raw or lightly cooked vegetables. A bowl of poorly drained iceberg lettuce with a bland dressing is hardly the most exciting way to start a meal.

Attractive arrangement and garnish are important because visual appeal stimulates the appetite. A satisfying,interesting starter puts the customer in a good frame of mind for the rest of the meal.

ACCOMPANIMENT SALADS

Salads can also be served with the main course.They serve the same function as other side dishes (vegetables and starches).

Accompaniment salads must balance and harmonize with the rest of the meal, like any other side dish. For example, don't serve potato salad at the same meal at which you are serving French fries or another starch. Sweet fruit salads are rarely appropriate as accompaniments, except with such items as ham or pork.

Side-dish salads should be light and flavorful,not too rich.Vegetable salads are often good choices. Heavier salads, such as macaroni or high-protein salads containing meat, seafood, cheese, and so on, are less appropriate, unless the main course is light. Combination salads with a variety of elements are appropriate accompaniments to sandwiches.

MAIN-COURSE SALADS

Cold salad plates have become popular on luncheon menus, especially among nutrition- and diet-conscious diners.The appeal of these salads is in variety and freshness of ingredients.

Main-course salads should be large enough to serve as a full meal and should contain a substantial portion of protein. Meat, poultry, and seafood salads, as well as egg salad and cheese, are popular choices.

Main-course salads should offer enough variety on the plate to form a balanced meal, both nutritionally and in flavors and textures. In addition to the protein, a salad platter should offer a variety of vegetables, greens, and/or fruits. Examples are chef's salad (mixed greens, raw vegetables, and strips of meat and cheese), shrimp or crab-meat salad with tomato wedges and slices of avocado on a bed of greens, and cottage cheese with an assortment of fresh fruits.

The portion size and variety of ingredients give the chef an excellent opportunity to use imagination and creativity to produce attractive, appetizing salad plates. Attractive arrangements and good color balance are important.

SEPARATE-COURSE SALADS

Many fine restaurants serve a refreshing,light salad after the main course.The purpose is to cleanse the palate after a rich dinner and to refresh the appetite and provide a pleasant break before dessert.

Salads served after the main course were the rule rather than the exception many years ago, and the practice deserves to be more widespread. A diner who may be satiated after a heavy meal is often refreshed and ready for dessert after a light, piquant salad.

Separate-course salads must be very light and in no way filling. Rich, heavy dressings, such as those made with sour cream and mayonnaise, should be avoided. Perhaps the ideal choice is a few delicate greens, such as Bibb lettuce or Belgian endive, lightly dressed with vinaigrette. Fruit salads are also popular choices.

DESSERT SALADS

Dessert salads are usually sweet and may contain items such as fruits, sweetened gelatin,nuts,and cream.They are often too sweet to be served as appetizers or accompaniments and are best served as dessert or as part of a buffet or party menu.

Continue reading here: Ingredients

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