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Tossed Salad (you know what I'm talking about)


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Megan Blocker had it for lunch, and it got me thinking that "tossed salad" was one of my staple foods growing up. I rarely have it now, and always in restaurants, but my mother regularly placed "a nice tossed salad" onto the table for dinner.

It seems a peculiarly U.S. dish, borne of the post-WWII supermarket and its regular availability of watery iceberg lettuce, bombalicious cukes, and tough-enough-to-make-it-this-far tomatoes. In my house, that is precisely what tossed salad was: thickly sliced cucumbers (later in life she would cut them into very thick dice, but they were always peeled), quartered or eighthed (?) tomatoes, lettuce cut into chunks (iceberg for years, then romaine), all topped with "Italian" dressing (Ken's and Wishbone were the house favorites, with Good Seasonings "homemade" on occasion). On truly special occasions, we'd have storebought, packaged croutons tossed in too.

That's about it; tossed salad had to be just so. For a joke, Russian or Thousand Island might show up on the table, but I never touched the stuff. Once my mom tried to stick chunks of red onion in there, prompting a housewide labor strike. Fortunately for us all, since neither her husband nor her two sons did any household labor related to food, it had little effect on the meal.

So did you have tossed salad as a youth? Do you, like Megan, treat yourself to one every now and then? Where did these things come from? What variations are there?

Chris Amirault

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No, tossed salad was not a dinnertime staple either at home or at Grandmom's as I was growing up, but we did have a salad every so often. It was just as you described it, except the cucumbers were never peeled, and the salad dressing was usually that orange glop the bottled dressing makers called "French"--I loved that stuff, and didn't learn what real French dressing ("vinaigrette") was until I was in college.

These days, I get the urge to throw together a garden salad every now and then much as my parents did. I put in more stuff, though: I start with Romaine lettuce and add radicchio, shredded carrots, red bell peppers, cucumbers, Vidalia or red onions, sundried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. If I have some on hand, I may add pickled banana peppers as well. I usually dress the salad with a balsamic vinaigrette or sometimes just plain seasoned rice vinegar.

From there, everything else is an add-on: julienned turkey, ham and cheese and sliced hard-boiled eggs for a chef's salad, or crumbled blue cheese and croutons.

Frankly, I think a chef's salad makes a great complete lunch.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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sliced hard-boiled eggs for a chef's salad, or crumbled blue cheese and croutons.

Frankly, I think a chef's salad makes a great complete lunch.

A mere short hop, skip, and a jump from a tossed salad to its regal and elite cousin une salade composée :wink:

“I don't altogether agree that a plain green salad ever becomes a bore - not, that is, if it's made with fresh, well-drained crisp greenstuff and a properly seasoned dressing of good-quality olive oil and a sound wine vinegar. But I do agree that all this talk about 'tossed salads' is a bore; it seems to me that a salad and its dressing are things we should take more or less for granted at a meal, like bread and salt; and not carry on about them.”

Elizabeth David (1913-1992) The Spectator, 1961

So did you have tossed salad as a youth?
I did ... and they were only lettuce, iceberg, and tomatoes, standard red, and a gloppy dressing, usually French which my father dismissed politely as "orange axle grease" ...
Do you, like Megan, treat yourself to one every now and then?

The only thing I treat myself to nowadays which is vaguely reminiscent of those days is the "Ice berg wedge with chopped tomato bits and thick bleu cheese dressing" currently in revival ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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It was a given in our household, though sometimes it would be replaced with a Waldorf salad, or carrot/raisin, or sometimes coleslaw. But more nights than not, there was the tossed salad on the table: iceberg, maybe some tomatoes, I can't remember what else, and a bottled dressing.

I STILL eat salad with dinner most nights. I am in a huge rut, but it usually consists of lettuce (romaine, or green or red leaf), cuke slices, diced red bell pepper, and sliced mushrooms. Seasonally, I'll add tomato, or use spinach instead. I prefer to dress the salad on the fly (a touch of salt and pepper, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil), but my husband prefers to use a bottled dressing when he makes it.

If we have company over, there is still usually a salad course, though I will buy mesclun, toast some nuts (walnuts, pecans, whatever's on hand), some goat cheese, actually whisk up a dressing, and add something seasonal - orange slices, dried cranberries, a quickly broiled fig or two, all depending on the season.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

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My father (when he went into the kitchen he made a big deal and a big mess) used to make a mixed salad. He used an immense punch bowl, it was a huge undertaking. He used iceberg lettuce, scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes, anchovies, blue cheese and carrots. Everything was chopped incredibly small, and he always peeled the cucumbers and removed the seeds. To this huge mix he added Good Seasons dressing, I kid you not! My mother actually allowed it in the house for the salad. Gee, I loved this salad! I haven't had that dressing in maybe 25 years. Now I probably couldn't stand the saltiness of it. And iceberg lettuce, we only use it for soup, to line pans during the baking of stuffed vegetables and shredded for tacos these days.

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Yes, tossed salad was a staple on my parents' dinner table. It was iceberg lettuce most of the year, with that "weird" (at least to us kids' eyes) leaf lettuce in the summer from the garden. Almost always tomatoes, cucumbers when they weren't too expensive, green onion, and bell pepper rings. Dressing was Wishbone Italian, Seven Seas Green Goddess (still a favorite), or some gloppy, overly sweet red stuff that was either French or Russian or something. I don't know, I never ate it, even then I didn't like sweet dressings. This was in the days before Ranch dressing.

A related treat in the summer was Mom's Wilted Lettuce Salad, made when the leaf lettuce really got going and she had to use it somehow. It is basically leaf lettuce, crumbled bacon, and a hot dressing of bacon grease, white or cider vinegar, and sugar. I still make it once in awhile, and I still love it.

I serve a tossed salad on the side more nights than not. No iceberg lettuce, though - I like the various prewashed bagged mixes a lot better. Still have tomatoes most nights (homegrown when they're available, and by the time all my green ones ripen it'll be Christmas), green onions, cucumbers - but sometimes celery, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, peanuts, bacon bits, radishes, red onion, pea pods, or whatever else looked good in the store.

Dressings also vary more - yes, we always have Ranch around, but there's also Marie's Super Blue Cheese, Annie's Goddess, Drew's Sundried Tomato....and once in awhile, I'll mix up a vinaigrette. Honestly, though, I don't like my own vinaigrettes any better than most of the bottled dressings, so I only make it when I'm looking for that exact flavor profile.

If I don't serve a salad, I'll almost always serve some other kind of green - either a slaw of some sort, or a cooked kale or chard dish. Sometimes I just do a mixed chopped vegetable salad with an experimental dressing - sometimes these come out well, sometimes they don't!

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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Thanks for the shout-out, Chris!

Tossed salad was almost always a component of dinner when I was growing up. I came from a family where dinner was not complete without at least two vegetables as part of the meal, and this usually meant a tossed salad and something else (maybe steamed haricot verts, my mom's favorite). My mother has always been a bit of a foodie, so even in the early '80's the lettuce was always something other than iceberg - consequently, of course, I always thought people who had iceberg in the fridge were so cool. Dressing was usually a bottled vinaigrette or my mom's homemade, which was very basic (mustard, olive oil, champagne vinegar, S&P) and very good.

Each week, we saved the leftover meats from various dinners (roast chicken, maybe, and grilled steak - we shoveled a path to the Weber in the Connecticut winters) and had a big "leftover salad" one night - tossed salad with all the good junk thrown in.

These days, I still eat a tossed salad of some kind most nights. My favorite food is the cucumber, so there's always some of that included, and then any combo of red onion or scallions, peppers, tomatoes, corn...anything that's in the fridge, really. When eating alone (so, basically, nights when I don't have guests), I rarely make any veggie besides the salad - it's so easy, and I can make a different variation on it every night. I've always loved the combinations of flavors and textures in tossed salads, and I crave them constantly.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

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I grew up in NYC in the 1950's, and the only lettuce known to us was iceberg. My mother (not a great cook) would cut it into wedges and make her "special" dressing whereby she blended mayonnaise and ketchup. I think that was all that there was to the salad, and for as many years as I ever ate at home, ending in about 1972 when I stopped coming home from college, that's as advanced as salad ever got in my house.

In 1969 I went to California on my own, and the discovery of other lettuces was a mind-boggling experience to me. I have tried to eat them as much as I could ever since, and these days I'm sort of addicted to watercress and arugula and the like. But growing up, I don't think we ever got as adventurous at home as Romaine, even.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

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For as long as I can remember, my dad always came home from work, went into the kitchen, and made himself a salad. This salad has always been composed of iceberg lettuce (mostly white and flavorless), with the possible addition of tomatoes or cucumber. Add bottled French dressing, and you have dad's salad.

I could never figure out why he ate those pale, white-ish lettuce leaves with such relish. To be honest, I still don't get it. Even after discovering spinach salads, which I love, I don't think I have fully recovered from the scars!

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OT, but I can't help it!

For as long as I can remember, my dad always came home from work, went into the kitchen, and made himself a salad... dad's salad...

I could never figure out why he ate those...with such relish...  To be honest, I still don't get it...

My mom was an amazing cook, really. Dad on the other hand... strange concoctions were his specialty, to be nice about it. Of course, we always thought he was amazing, with his messes and his 'special' cast iron skillet. It was usually a great, greasy and junky treat when he would visit the kitchen.

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Ah! The tossed salad! My mom and grandma both made them. Mom's was iceburg, cucumber, tomato, and possibly, red onion. All dressed with Mayonnaise. Grandma made it with about the same ingredients but used a true vinaigrette. Sometimes she and I would share a butter lettuce salad with vinaigrette.

My first husband used to make cracks about "Barbara and her seven kinds of lettuce".......................... but he ate them.

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Does anyone here remember chopped salads?  :rolleyes:

Grandma made these, too. Tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, bell peppers dressed with vinaigrette. I don't know where she got this idea but it was delicious, made with home grown vegetables. Maybe from some of the Spanish ladies that lived in our area. It tasted much like my favorite Gaspacho.

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We always had tossed salad, served, for some reason, in a white casserole that was way too small for the salad - it would always fall out when we did the requisite tossing.

Lettuce was iceberg until I was in high school, at which point my mom discovered red leaf. I always had to wash the lettuce, which was a miserable job, as we had no salad spinner, and it took forever. Tomatoes were of the pink, mealy variety. I actually thought I hated raw tomatoes for a long time. What a revelation to taste a properly ripened tomato that wasn't stored in the fridge! (and to eat steak that wasn't well done, but that's another topic...)

We used only Italian dressing, and until I was in high school, it was homemade in a carafe that had lines directing my mother how to make it - oil to here, vinegar to here, water to here. Once the lovely Paul Newman launched his famous dressing, we had that, but my mom thought it was too bland (and it was the eighties) so she added balsamic vinegar (so eighties!!).

The salad also contained cucumbers, peeled and cut in half circles, and scallions, the white part only.

When did you all eat your salad? Ours was served with the meal, which is what I do now. My cousins always ate their salad after the main course, which seemed so strange to me.

We also started most meals with a half of a grapefruit - did anyone else do that??

These days, we do salad maybe 2 times a week. I serve it in a giant wooden bowl in which I make the dressing first before adding ingredients.

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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Yes, always salads as part of dinner growing up, and usually tossed salad... However, my mom never used bottled dressing or made a vinaigrette! She always splashed on some oil and vinegar and tossed it in a great big bowl. Maybe it was an Italian thing. I do that quite often now. The lettuce was often iceberg, and sometimes romaine and/or arugula -- only they called the arugula roquette when I was growing up. Usually there were cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, onions, and maybe olives, chick peas, or a special addition in it also. Salads were usually eaten after the main course, and that's what Russ and I do now and did when we were raising our kids.

More times than not, we have a salad as part of our dinners now. One thing that I guess is rather weird about us now is that we like iceberg lettuce. It's not the usual, but at least once every couple of weeks we get a head of that and either have it as part of a tossed salad, or have it with tomatoes, onions, blue cheese, and a vinaigrette. Sometimes our salads are fancy, with mixed baby greens or whatever, and sometimes they are as simple as sliced tomatoes. The addition of toasted pine nuts is pretty common for us, too.

Salad habits, what a cool topic!

Does anyone here remember chopped salads?  :rolleyes:

Remember chopped salads? They appear regularly at our house!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Tossed salad was a nightly dinner requirement in my family too--in fact, making the salad was often my dinner chore. I dutifully learned and followed my parents' Salad Construction Template, which had several key rules:

1. Always use two types of lettuce--the inevitable iceberg, plus--surprisingly, given it was the 1960s--a bitter green like chicory or curly endive. I have no idea how my folks got onto that. It actually did perk up the otherwise mundane salad quite a bit.

2. Always use an onion product--red, white, or green (scallions) were the three choices, sliced thinly. We used the whole scallion, white and green.

3. Always include tomatoes--no matter how tasteless they might be. Usually cut in wedges or chunks so they wouldn't disintegrate. Sometimes we'd use cherry tomatoes instead.

4. Always add at least one more element for color and contrast. The usual culprits in this category were red radishes (pain in the butt to slice the little things), cucumbers (peeled but not seeded), and occasionally slivered red cabbage.

We used to almost always make our own dressing. For some reason my folks liked their dressing extremely tart, typically one part each of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and oil (thinking back, I bet the puckery dressing started from my mother's obsession about oil being "bad" and "fattening"). We'd mix into the dressing some salt and pepper, some crushed dried herbs, perhaps a little dry mustard, and a pressed clove of garlic. One time I was pressing the poor clove of garlic so hard that it went shooting out of the press like a bullet, and promptly vanished into some recess in the kitchen. We looked for that damn garlic clove for weeks afterward and never found it. Eventually it became a running joke/legend in the family--we figured one day we'd need to replace the fridge, and would find splatted on the wall behind it the fossilized remains of the Phantom Clove.

Anyway--this dressing concoction had nowhere near enough emulsifying agents in it to keep it emulsified, so you had to shake it up like crazy and immediately pour it on the salad before it separated again. Oh yeah, and we dressed the salad in the bowl well before serving, blithely unconcerned that the poor thing would be kinda wilted by the time we got around to eating it.

Bowls of salad were eaten along with dinner. My mom was another firm believer in having two vegetable sides with every dinner--usually the salad would be one, and a frozen-reheated vegetable the other.

As various family members began doing time in Weight Watchers meetings, the pre-dressing of the salad would give way to a small forest of bottled diet dressings arrayed on the dinner table. As I recall, all of those were pretty wretched-tasting. Sometimes I would substitute a wedge of iceberg lettuce annointed with diet "french" dressing--the scary orange goop. I still can't believe I ate that stuff.

When we went out to dinner, often as not at the local diner, salads would be pretty similar to what we made at home, so I spent my youth assuming that was what a salad was supposed to be. I remember going to a friend's house for dinner once and being served a spinach salad for the first time. In hindsight, it was a pretty rudimentary spinach salad--the raw greens, some grated hardboiled egg, some cold crumbled bacon--but I thought it was so exotic and gourmet. This friend's dad also drove a Saab, the only one I had ever seen up to that point, and worked for PBS producing documentaries, and somehow from these few facts I constructed this whole image of cosmopolitan intellectual/artistic types all driving exotic imported cars and dining on raw rather than frozen reheated spinach. Ah, the innocence of youth.

Nowadays, I cannot for the life of me figure out why we were so into that iceberg lettuce. Once in a blue moon I buy a head of it, and inevitably wind up throwing it out barely used. Cellulose and water. What in the world is the point? Meanwhile, my salad-making, while far less frequent, has become much more appetizing. And I learned how to make a proper vinaigrette, with a more normal ratio of oil to vinegar, and enough mustard to hold it together.

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I grew up with tossed salad too. My parents used iceberg too (remember that it was a new thing when they were small- it was introduced to them by their parents). We had red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, bell peppers, sprouts, garbanzo beans, carrots, etc... We almost always had the Good Seasoning dressing (made in the carafe with water- my sister is a diabetic, I was shocked the first time I was served a salad with oil on it. I thought that it was so weird).

My dad and my uncle still prefer iceberg- and call the lettuce that their children like to eat "rabbit food"- though they will eat it.

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i've grown to become a big fan of the tossed spinich salad, wilted and not........

the quality of the baby spinich i can buy, combined with it's ability to keep fresh, beats the hell out of any lettuce i've seen........

plus, you can always cook with it........and it's better nutritionally......

somehow, a salad like this with grilled meat or fish makes a perfect meal for me.......

simple, fast, healthy, and relatively cheap........

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This thread is so interesting, having evolved into salad habits past and present!

Ellen, I just LOL'ed so much that Russ said "what???" and wanted to hear what got me laughing heartily before noon.

One time I was pressing the poor clove of garlic so hard that it went shooting out of the press like a bullet, and promptly vanished into some recess in the kitchen. We looked for that damn garlic clove for weeks afterward and never found it. Eventually it became a running joke/legend in the family--we figured one day we'd need to replace the fridge, and would find splatted on the wall behind it the fossilized remains of the Phantom Clove.

You write so well. That's a publishable essay!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Southern contingent checking in here--------iceberg was a store-bought lettuce, the only kind available for more than half the year. But oh, our gardens put out salad greens of the best kinds: baby lettuces and chicory and the tenderest little emerald ears of spinach; tiny leaves of mustard and chard and even collards, when picked at their smallest (a feat which had to be snuck past Papa, our own Mr. McGregor, on guard against all marauders, even those who set his own dinnertable).

I look at the arrays of mache and endive and all the tiniest greens displayed in our supermarkets, languishing midst the exotic fruits and vegetables, the cactus ears and the shining hands of ginger, as foreign to most of the shoppers as betel nut and taro. But these small-picked leaves of lettuce and spinach, the spiky pale chicories, the crisp spears of romaine hearts, these were the salads of my raising. Even the bitter little mustard leaves were grabbed five minutes before noon dinner, swished through three cool rinses, spun wildly in a windmill motion in a clean cotton pillowcase by whatever kid happened by at the moment, then placed in the big wooden salad bowl, to be tossed with crisp bacon, golden shards of boiled egg, some rounds of just-slivered green onions, whites and all, and the heated bacon fat, swirled with a dash of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a good glug of red wine vinegar. The hot dressing was sizzled on at the last moment, the top layer of leaves and onion shriveling from the crisping blast, and the whole thing tossed into a warmish, salty, dark green mass with pings of gold and a good vinegary tang. It qualified as a mess of greens and a salad, all at once---all your vitamins and iron and good fortifying onion breath in one bowl.

The half-cup or so of drippings left in the bottom of the bowl were so delectable that someone would crumble a piece or two of cornbread into the bowl, tossing the crumbs, and passing the bowl around again for everyone to retrieve a luscious spoonful of the dregs. Lovely.

And from somewhere in there, I remember a Good Seasons called Exotic Herbs. Though it was made from a packet of powder, in the little glass "cruet" provided in the special box, and one of the main ingredients was water carefully measured "up to the line," I STILL wish they made that wonderful flavor combination in their present market. I CRRRRRRave to taste that dressing again.

Iceberg wedges with homemade blue cheese dressing, layered iceberg with bacon and water chestnuts and celery and scallions, with little punctuating lines of golden egg yolk and bright thawed green peas in the layers---all this crowned with a mixture of mayonnaise and sharp cheddar shreds, to be displayed to an admiring audience before tossing at table---that was for special occasions.

And cafeteria-line "combination salad" with the requisite hunk of cucumber, tomato, red onion ring, and the daring addition of perhaps a black olive or two, with a little fluty cup of thousand or French enclosed under the clear wrap---those were as expected as the stuffed peppers and green beans with onion rings farther down the line.

Show of hands---Wooden salad bowl and set of six/eight mini-clones---with the caveat that the big one should be rubbed with a clove of garlic before dressing was made in the bottom, and NEVER wash the big bowl. Anybody get in on that bit of rural legend?

And it's not a tossed salad, but one neighbor who ate with us from time to time had the habit of surveying the diners, asking if everyone were finished. He would then pull the tomato platter toward him, with its leavings of tomato slices or quarters, onion crescents, perhaps a few cucumber rounds or pickles or olives. He would move his plate out of the way, set to with his knife and fork in the manner of a Daddy cutting up his child's dinner, and neatly cut every remainder on that platter in bite-size pieces. He salted it well, clopped on a big scoop of Blue Plate mayo (always in a little cut-glass dish on our summer table), and even if we'd had rolls or spoonbread or cornbread, he'd get up and go get the crackly-wrappered loaf of Wonder Bread. He'd stir that vegetable/mayo mixture, letting the juices run pinkly all onto the platter, then lay down a precise tiling of bread slices, sometimes five or six, pressing them down well, then cut them in the same manner, making a great gooey pile of pink-coated bread with little bits of tomato and green and white all through.

He was a small, slender man, but even after a big dinner of fried chicken and peas and cornbread and vegetables, he would eat every bite of his special afterdinner concoction. We would go ahead and clear, serve dessert and coffee, and he would still be munching his way through that mass of pink and red. And I tasted it once. It was wonderful.

Then he'd have pie.

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Rachel, nice... I enjoyed reading that.

Show of hands---Wooden salad bowl and set of six/eight mini-clones---with the caveat that the big one should be rubbed with a clove of garlic before dressing was made in the bottom, and NEVER wash the big bowl. Anybody get in on that bit of rural legend?
<Raising hand halfway> Once in a while my mom served salad with that set, but I think she got over it. The mini-clones always seemed sticky when they were supposedly clean. :unsure::smile:

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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So did you have tossed salad as a youth? Do you, like Megan, treat yourself to one every now and then? Where did these things come from? What variations are there?

we ate garden salad almost every day during growing season. with 1/4 acre garden we shared with the maiden lady across the street we had lettuces, tomatoes, cukes, onions (a few reds that my grandfather loved and regularly made an appearance in the salad and on his burgers). we did grow iceberg but also had red leaf and frise as well as pulling cress from one or two secret locations.

dressings were usually store bought and i have told of my love for my birthday dinner of a salad of sliced tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese and that red french dressing <holds head up high since ya gotta have some trailer trash in ya to be interesting :wink: >

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

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We used to almost always make our own dressing. For some reason my folks liked their dressing extremely tart, typically one part each of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and oil (thinking back, I bet the puckery dressing started from my mother's obsession about oil being "bad" and "fattening").

I tend to make my dressings on the acidic side too, sometimes even inverting the traditional 3:1 oil/vinegar ratio, though more commonly my oil/vinegar ratio is 1:1. I like the tang. This may also explain my preference for balsamic and rice vinegar over wine vinegar.

As for iceberg lettuce: It may have no flavor or nutritive value at all, but it does have a satisfying crunch, which I think is the main reason it remains popular. Just make sure you're using some other lettuce--Romaine, radicchio, looseleaf, you name it--along with the iceberg. Your parents did have the basic idea right.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Rachel, nice...  I enjoyed reading that.
Show of hands---Wooden salad bowl and set of six/eight mini-clones---with the caveat that the big one should be rubbed with a clove of garlic before dressing was made in the bottom, and NEVER wash the big bowl. Anybody get in on that bit of rural legend?
<Raising hand halfway> Once in a while my mom served salad with that set, but I think she got over it. The mini-clones always seemed sticky when they were supposedly clean. :unsure::smile:

Our first salad bowl was a big brown earthenware affair, but somewhere in there we acquired one of those salad bowls made of thin slats of wood woven together and then laminated, plus little individual bowls to match. We never did pick up the rubbing-with-garlic-clove thing. And we did wash the big bowl--my mom's rule was to wash *everything* within an inch of its life. Good thing it was a cheapo bowl! At least she didn't insist on putting it through the dishwasher--I bet it would have fallen apart into its constituent slats.

We also had those damfool plastic "salad scissors"--you know the gizmo I mean: a salad spoon and fork designed to interlock into a kind of scissors/tongs affair. They were cheap 'n' tacky as all hell, but there's no denying they were a lot easier than your standard salad servers for a kid to manipulate without flinging salad across the room (and all over his or her siblings ... :rolleyes: )

(Why yes, my mom did adore flea markets and swap meets--why do you ask? :laugh::laugh::laugh: )

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Rachel, nice...  I enjoyed reading that.
Show of hands---Wooden salad bowl and set of six/eight mini-clones---with the caveat that the big one should be rubbed with a clove of garlic before dressing was made in the bottom, and NEVER wash the big bowl. Anybody get in on that bit of rural legend?
<Raising hand halfway> Once in a while my mom served salad with that set, but I think she got over it. The mini-clones always seemed sticky when they were supposedly clean. :unsure::smile:

Our first salad bowl was a big brown earthenware affair, but somewhere in there we acquired one of those salad bowls made of thin slats of wood woven together and then laminated, plus little individual bowls to match.

We had two wooden, extremely seasoned salad bowls (never washed with soap - only rinsed and wiped down) - one very large, one medium-sized (just right for a single, meal-sized salad or side salad for three). I'm pretty sure the smaller one (which was just stained wood - not laminated at all) was a wedding present to my mom and dad, which would date it to 1974. The larger one entered the house sometime in the mid-80's, I think. My mom still uses both on a regular basis. One of my first purchases when I moved to New York after college was a wooden salad bowl, which I use almost every day. My mom's are gorgeous and wide-mouthed, gently tapered - perfect for making dressings in the bowl. Mine has straight sides and a flat bottom, since I didn't have the cabinet space for one like hers. Maybe I'll treat myself this year!

Tongs-wise, they've changed over the years. I inherited my penchant for interesting salad tongs from my mom - we both have wooden ones with zebras on the ends of the handles from Africa (brought back for us by two different friends - apparently everyone knows we have the same taste), and we both bought gorgeous pewter ones in Mexico a couple of years ago. Mom has several others, but I can't remember them all - the zebras are her (and my) everyday tongs.

As for eating, we pretty much did that on our larger dinner plates, the better to mush our bites together. If we were having pasta or risotto, we had our salad on smaller side plates.

All this reminiscing is making me miss my mommy! Mo-om!!!! :raz: Good thing she's coming to visit from the wilds of Fresno in a couple of weeks.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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