|Main ingredients||Pieces of vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, or grains mixed with a sauce.|
A salad is a dish consisting of mixed pieces of food, typically with at least one raw ingredient. They are often dressed, and typically served at room temperature or chilled, though some can be served warm.
Garden salads use a base of leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula/rocket, kale or spinach; they are common enough that the word salad alone often refers specifically to garden salads. Other types include bean salad, tuna salad, fattoush, Greek salad (vegetable-based, but without leafy greens), and sōmen salad (a noodle-based salad).
Salads may be served at any point during a meal:
- Appetizer salads—light, smaller-portion salads served as the first course of the meal
- Side salads—to accompany the main course as a side dish, examples include potato salad and coleslaw
- Main course salads—usually containing a portion of a high-protein foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, legumes, or cheese
- Dessert salads—sweet salads containing fruit, gelatin, sweeteners or whipped cream
The word "salad" comes to English from the French salade of the same meaning, itself an abbreviated form of the earlier Vulgar Latin herba salata (salted greens), from the Latin salata (salted), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appears as "salad" or "sallet" in the 14th century. Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine (a solution of salt in water) or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times. The phrase "salad days", meaning a "time of youthful inexperience" (based on the notion of "green"), is first recorded by Shakespeare in 1606, while the use of salad bar, referring to a buffet-style serving of salad ingredients, first appeared in American English in the 1960s.
The Romans, ancient Greeks and Persians ate mixed greens with dressing, a type of mixed salad. Salads, including layered and dressed salads, have been popular in Europe since the Greek and Roman imperial expansions. In his 1699 book, Acetaria: A Discourse on Sallets, John Evelyn attempted with little success to encourage his fellow Britons to eat fresh salad greens. Mary, Queen of Scots, ate boiled celery root over greens covered with creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil, and slices of hard-boiled eggs.
Oil used on salads can be found in the 17th-century colony of New Netherland (later called New York, New Jersey and Delaware). A list of common items arriving on ships and their designated prices when appraising cargo included "a can of salad oil at 1.10 florins" and "an anker of wine vinegar at 16 florins". In a 1665 letter to the Director of New Netherland from the Island of Curaçao there is a request to send greens: "I request most amicably that your honors be pleased to send me seed of every sort, such as cabbage, carrots, lettuce, parsley, etc. for none can be acquired here and I know that your honor has plenty,...".
Salads may be sold in supermarkets, at restaurants and at fast food chains. In the United States, restaurants will often have a salad bar with salad-making ingredients, which the customers will use to put together their salad. Salad restaurants were earning more than $300 million in 2014. At-home salad consumption in the 2010s was rising but moving away from fresh-chopped lettuce and toward bagged greens and salad kits, with bag sales expected to reach $7 billion per year.
A salad can be a composed salad (with the ingredients specifically arranged on the serving dish) or a tossed salad (with the ingredients placed in a bowl and mixed, often with salad dressing). An antipasto plate, the first dish of a formal Italian meal, is similar to a composed salad, and has vegetables, cheese, and meat.
A green salad, or green leaf salad, another name for garden salad, is most often composed of leafy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, spinach, or rocket (arugula). If non-greens make up a large portion of the salad it may instead be called a vegetable salad. Common raw vegetables (in the culinary sense) used in a salad include cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, radishes, mushrooms, avocado, olives, artichoke hearts, heart of palm, watercress, parsley, garden beets, and green beans. Nuts, berries, seeds, and flowers are less common components. Hard-boiled eggs, bacon, shrimp, and cheeses may be used as garnishes, but large amounts of animal-based foods would be more likely in a dinner salad.
Rice and pasta salads
Bound salads are assembled with thick sauces such as mayonnaise. One portion of a bound salad will hold its shape when placed on a plate with a scoop. Examples of bound salad include tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, coleslaw, and potato salad. Some bound salads are used as sandwich fillings. Some pasta salads, e.g. macaroni salad, are bound salads. They are popular at picnics and barbecues.
Main course salads (known as dinner salads or as entrée salads in the United States) may contain small pieces of poultry, seafood, or steak. Caesar salad, Chef salad, Cobb salad, Chinese chicken salad, Michigan salad, and Pittsburgh salad are dinner salads.
Dessert salads rarely include leafy greens and are often sweet. Common variants are made with gelatin or whipped cream; e.g. jello salad, pistachio salad, and ambrosia. Other forms of dessert salads include regional dishes such as Midwestern America's ambrosia-like glorified rice and cookie salad, which contains crumbled cookies as an ingredient.
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- "Council Minutes page 78" (PDF).
- "Curaçao Papers page 234" (PDF).
- "Birth of the salad bar; Local restaurant owners may have invented the common buffet," The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), 28 December 2001, Magazine section (p. 10A)
- Lam, Bourree (3 July 2015). "America's $300 Million Salad Industry". The Atlantic. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
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- Frances Barber Harris (1918), Florida Salads: a collection of dainty, wholesome salad recipes that will appeal to the most fastidious, Jacksonville, Fla: Jacksonville Printing Co., OCLC 509840, OL 6612631M