CHAPTER XII: UNDERSTANDING VEGETABLES (contd.)
SALAD AND SALAD DRESSINGS
Herba Salata, the Latin equivalent of salted greens, is what the term salad is derived from. This suggests that the earliest salads were mixtures of pickled greens, seasoned with salt. This culinary variation evolved by the time of Imperial Rome into mixtures of greens served with a fresh herb garnish and an oil-vinegar dressing. The 17th and 18th Century brought more additions to the humble culinary creation called the salad. Lettuces of various types were used as a base with some type of meat, poultry and mixed vegetables placed on the top. It was in the early 20th century that Escoffier carried the art of salad making to new heights. The possibilities for salad combinations are limited only by the imagination of the chef. They may include leaf greens, raw and cooked vegetables, fruit, meat, legumes and rice and pasta based salads, to mention just a few.
In many food service operations, salads are the items that are given the least attention and consideration, both in planning and preparation. Chefs often erroneously perceive it as a simple task that needs little or no training. This attitude results in salads of a poor quality. Certain factors need to be considered while planning a salad. These include:
- Fresh ingredients
- Attractive plating
- Proper textures
- Eye appeal
- Well balanced flavor
The wide variety of salads makes it difficult to state exact rules for the proper preparation of salads. However, there are some rules of thumb that must be followed.
- Utilize the freshest ingredients and specially those in season.
- Light leaf vegetables should be tossed in a dressing just before the service.
- Pour enough dressing to season; not drown the main ingredient.
- Use a suitable container to present the salad.
- Never overcrowd the salad plate.
- Accommodate the salad within the dish and not on or over the edge.
Today, the salad is considered to be a popular item. It is the favorite of weight watchers and those on a diet. It is also a versatile dish and can be served as:
- An appetizer
- An entrée
- A main course
- An accompaniment to the main course
- A dessert
- On the buffet as part of the salad bar
- As a sandwich filling
- As a plate garnish
TYPES OF SALAD
There are two types of salad:
- Leaf/Simple or Green Salad
- Compound /Mixed Salad
A simple salad is a variety of one or more greens. A mild dressing such as a light
Vinaigrette is used so the delicate taste of the greens is not masked. Various types of greens are now available locally and would include:
- Oak Leaf
- Belgian endive
- Red/white cabbage
Leaf salads are usually served as an accompaniment to the main course and rarely as any other course.
BASIC PROCEDURE FOR LEAF SALADS:
1. Wash the greens thoroughly in several changes of water.
2. Drain the greens well. Poor draining will result in watered down dressing.
3. Crisp the greens. Place them in a colander in the refrigerator.
4. Cut or tear into bite size pieces.
5. Mix the greens well. Toss gently till uniformly mixed.
6. Plate the salads. Use cold plates please! Not those just out of the dishwasher.
8. Add dressing just before serving along with garnish. Dressed greens wilt rapidly.
Are made up of four parts:
BASE: normally on of the above greens. It gives definition to the placement of the salad on the plate. A green lettuce leaf is used as an under liner for the salad. Shredded greens can also be utilized and this will give height and dimension to the plate.
BODY: This is the main ingredient in the salad and will generally give the name to the salad. The body must be the main ingredient and will be placed on top of the base. The body could be made up of just on ingredient or in some cases, several.
DRESSING: is used to enhance and add to the taste and flavor of the body. It makes the salad more palate pleasing. The dressing may be tossed with the body of the salad, or served as an accompaniment poured over the salad at the table. The dressing is made up of four parts:
- THE OIL: This could include a plain refined, odorless oil or a more exotic one such as Avocado oil, Olive oil, Olive oil with herbs, Sesame seed oil, Walnut oil, peanut oil, corn oil, almond oil & soybean oil.
- THE ACIDIC MEDIUM: Is normally vinegar, red or white. However, Lemon/Lime juice, Yogurt (curds), Red and White Wine can also be used. The popular vinegars include Cider Vinegar, Malt Vinegar, Wine Vinegar, Wine Vinegar, Chili Vinegar and Rice Vinegar.
- THE SEASONING: Would include varieties of salt.
- THE FLAVOR ENHANCERS: These will include MSG, Spice Powders, Herbs,
Garlic, Proprietary Sauces, Fruit Juices & Cream.
CLASSICAL SALAD DRESSINGS:
1. FRENCH: 1 part vinegar : 2 parts oil + salt , pepper, french mustard.
2. ENGLISH: 2 parts vinegar : 1 part oil + salt, pepper, caster sugar, english mustard.
3. AMERICAN: Equal parts of oil and vinegar + salt. Pepper, english mustard and additional sugar.
4. MAYONNAISE: Mayonnaise sauce thinned down with vinegar or lemon juice.
5. VINAIGRETTE: 1 part vinegar : 2 parts olive oil + salt, pepper, english/french mustard.
6. RAVIGOTTE: Vinaigrette + chopped chervil,chives, tarragon, capers and parsley.
7. GRIBICHE: Mayonnaise dressing + chopped gherkins, capers, cervil,tarragon, parsley and strips of hard boiled egg white.
8. ACIDULATED CREAM: Fresh cream + fresh lemon juice and salt
9. THOUSAND ISLAND : Mayonnaise dressing + a little chili sauce and chopped red pimento, chives and green peppers
GUIDELINES FOR ARRANGING SALADS
Perhaps even more than with most other foods, the appearance and arrangement of a salad is essential to its quality. The colorful variety of salad ingredients gives the creative chef an opportunity to create miniature works of art on the salad plate.
1. Keep the salad off the rim of the plate: Think of the rim as the frame of a picture. Keep the salad within the frame. Select the right plate for the portion size, not too large or not too small.
2. Strive for a good balance of color: Pale iceberg lettuce is pretty plain and colorless but can be livened up by mixing in some darker greens and perhaps a few shreds of carrot, red cabbage or other colored vegetables such as peppers. On the other hand don’t overdo it and go over board. Three colors are usually more than enough. Shades of green give a good effect and too many colors will look messy.
3. Height makes a salad attractive: Ingredients mounded onto a plate are more interesting than that lying flat. Lettuce cups as a base adds height. Often, just a little height is enough.
4. Cut the ingredients neatly: Ragged or sloppy cutting makes the whole salad look unattractive and haphazard.
5. Make every ingredient identifiable: The pieces should be large enough for the customer to identify each ingredient. Don’t pulverize everything. Bite size pieces are the rule. Seasoning ingredients like onion could be chopped fine.
6. Keep it simple: A simple, natural arrangement is pleasant to view. An elaborate design, a contrived arrangement, or a cluttered plate will defeat the purpose.
Thousand Island Dressing