The Glory of Salads

Today I’m going to talk to you about salads. This is a subject I feel quite strongly about, so the post is going to be full of hyperbole and over the top language. But, let’s be honest, when are my posts not?

You probably think salads are boring. Some lettuce, cucumber, maybe tomatoes and carrots if you’re lucky. In order to make them interesting you need to pile them with dressing. Right?

Wrong! Wrong wrong wrong.

Indeed, mere words cannot express how wrong this is. So instead I am going to have to refer you to some higher authorities.

Here is what the bible has to say on the subject:

“Thou shalt not put the cucumber and a measly supermarket tomato on the lettuce and call it a salad, for that is an abomination.”

After a consultation with the Eschaton, it was convinced that the matter was of sufficiently great importance that the following appeared across the galaxy.

“4. Thou shalt not make boring salads within my historic light cone. Or else.”

Finally, if these have not convinced you of the severity of the situation, if you make boring salads then these cute kittens will cry.

So, on reflection, if you make boring salads then you will go to hell, your civilisation will be wiped out by a passing asteroid, and kittens will cry. Moreover, you will have a boring salad.

Now, I must explain how one goes about making an interesting salad.

The first myth to be disposed of is that a lot of dressing will make an interesting salad. If you put dressing on a boring salad then what you have is a boring salad covered in dressing. This might be edible, but it’s not an interesting salad.

The second thing to bear in mind about dressing is that, given a decent salad, it isn’t neccesary. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing – I really like salad dressing. But the more ingredients your salad has, the more the dressing becomes just an accompaniment to the salad – it’s not an integral part of it, and can quite happily be left out.

Implicit in this is that real salads should have a number of different ingredients. If you’re only going to have a few ingredients then they should be interesting ones.

For example, the salad I had for lunch today contained the following ingredients: Romaine lettuce (never ever use iceberg lettuce. It is the devil’s leaf.), sundried tomatoes, half an orange sweet pepper, two hard boiled eggs and a banana (do not doubt the use of banana in salad until you have tried it. It is awesome.).

I considered this to be a fairly basic salad. Ideally I’d have added some avocado, maybe a few capers, some seared red onion, etc. to it, but I didn’t have the first two and couldn’t be bothered to cook the third.

So, here is a list of some worthwhile salad ingredients. It is in no way exhaustive, and I’m definitely not suggesting you use all of them in a single salad.

  • Lettuce of course. My favourites are Romaine and little gems, but there is a wide variety of opinion on this. However the people who think iceberg lettuce is appropriate are simply wrong.
  • Cucumber fulfills a similar role to lettuce – it’s nice, bulks up the salad a bit, and has a simple flavour to it. It isn’t however in itself very interesting.
  • Carrots. Good quality carrots have a wonderful texture to them, and chopped or shredded (this is distinct from grated) carrot in a salad is very nice.
  • Good quality fresh tomatoes. None of those boring tasteless default supermarket tomatoes.
  • Avocado.
  • Sundried tomatoes.
  • Capers
  • Egg. Either scrambled (to the point where it’s dry rather than runny) or hard boiled.
  • Roast squash.
  • Sweet peppers. Either raw or cooked.
  • Good cheeses. Especially feta or mozzarrela.
  • Banana.
  • Raisins or sultanas.
  • Green beans.
  • Chickpeas.
  • Kidney beans.
  • Seared onion. Red is best here. You can also include them raw, but I don’t like it.
  • Tuna fish.
  • Anchovies.
  • Artichoke hearts.
  • Just about anything else that’s edible cold.

One particular combination (which I can’t eat any more) that works really well is that of banana, sundried tomatoes and feta. I know you’re probably looking skeptical at this, but try it anyway and then come back and yell at me if you’re still not convinced.

Having put together these salads, you can then drizzle dressing over them – vinaigrette, honey-mustard, sesame and soy sauce, whatever you feel like as long as it’s interesting.

So, spread the word. Salads can – and should – be interesting, and people who make boring salads will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

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2 thoughts on “The Glory of Salads

  1. Courtney

    I’m inspired.
    The banana-and-feta combo sounds wildly alluring. Where did that idea come from?

  2. David R. MacIver

    I confess I haven’t the slightest idea!

    In my first year of university I experimented with all sorts of dangerous and wild salad combinations. I imagine the banana/feta/sundried tomato combination is something that emerged as the result of those, but I don’t know if it came from somewhere else before hand.

    Glad I’ve inspired you. :-)

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