All green vegetables that are eaten raw and dressed with acid, salt, and oil, are included in the list of salads, and they should always be served crisp and cool. Wash salad greens carefully, allowing them to stand in cold or iced water until crisp. Drain and wipe dry with a soft towel, taking care not to bruise the leaves, and keep in cool place till serving time. If they are not thoroughly dried, the water will collect in the bottom of the dish and ruin any dressing used.
Pare cucumbers thickly, and remove a thick slice from each end; cut into thin slices, or into one-half inch dice, and keep in cold water until ready to serve, then drain thoroughly; crisp celery in cold water also.
Pare tomatoes, and keep in a cold_place, and sprinkle with chopped ice at serving time. The list of vegetables suitable for salads is so long that the question of kind is wholly a matter of choice. Asparagus, peas, string beans, beets, cauliflower, etc., are all well utilized in salads. Freshly cooked vegetables or left-overs may be used, but all cooked vegetables must be cold and perfectly tender. By deftly combining these left-overs with the favorite dressing, there is material for a delicious and economical salad, to which the somewhat aristocratic name of macedoine salad may be given. This salad may consist of a few or many kinds of vegetables, any combination pleasing alike to the eye and the palate being permissible, and if care is taken in the arrangement, it may be made a very attractive dish.
To the dressing of salads one must give utmost care and attention, as upon their excellence the success of the dish principally depends. While rules for dressings are innumerable, there are, after all, only a few really good ones. The French dressing and the mayonnaise are most generally known, the former being the simplest and most commonly used of all dressings. And it is quite the favorite for lettuce, cresses, chicory, and other vegetable salads. As the salad wilts if allowed to stand in the dressing, it should not be added till just at the moment of serving, and it is for this reason that it is frequently made at the table.
One of the most difficult things to prepare is a perfect mayonnaise, but once the knack is acquired, failure afterwards is rare. One essential point is to have all the materials cold. Chill in the refrigerator both the bowl and oil an hour or more before using. In warm weather it is advisable during the mixing to stand the bowl in a larger one of cracked ice. This dressing, if covered closely, will keep several days or longer in the ice-box. Keep in a cold place till wanted, as it liquefies as soon as mixed with meat or vegetables. To tone down the taste of the oil, and thus make more delicate salads, one may add to the dressing, just before it is used, a little cream beaten stiff and dry. This dressing is used with nut and fruit salads, and may be used with potatoes, tomatoes, celery, and other vegetables.
Most cooked vegetables intended for salads are moistened with a French dressing and allowed to stand an hour or more, or until well seasoned, in a cold place. To this process the term marinate is applied. Just before serving, pour off all the marinate that is not absorbed, and combine with the mayonnaise. A mistake frequently made in preparing salad dressing is that of using too much acid. The acid flavor should not predominate, but other flavors should also have their value.