Salads and desserts are sometimes looked upon as luxuries, and something to be omitted where people must exercise strict economy, and as more or less indigestible forms of food to be avoided. As a matter of fact both of these types of dishes are extremely valuable in giving variety to the diet. They may be very inexpensive, and when they have the right relation to the rest of the meal, are not more indigestible than many other forms of food. A heavy salad or rich dessert eaten after a sufficient amount of other food will naturally cause digestive disturbance.
To disprove the theory of great cost of desserts, two friends once had an amusing contest to see which could serve the largest number of palatable desserts at the lowest price. It was interesting to see how many could be made for a cost of from six to ten cents for a family of five.
The word "salad" is said to be derived from the Latin "salis" (salt) which implies that the salad has been looked upon more or less as a relish. We all associate with a salad appetizing crispness and freshness. The materials used in the modern salad are so varied that a complete list would include nearly all our fruits and vegetables and meat foods.
Celery, chicory or endive, corn salad, cress, cucumber, dandelion, lettuce, onions, peppers, romaine or cos lettuce, radishes, and tomatoes.
The white meats like veal, chicken, and turkey are more attractive in salad, but any kind of cold meat may be used.
Lobsters, crabs, scallops, and cold fish.
Several kinds may be used in combination with fruit.
Tomato jelly, meat, chicken, and fish molded in jelly, may be served as a salad.
Hard-boiled eggs are used as a garnish.
May be served with lettuce.
Plain lettuce or celery served with salt is in a sense a salad, but it is our custom to dress the lettuce with a mixture which contains an acid and usually an oil. A very simple, old-fashioned form of dressing used in this country is vinegar and sugar. Substitute lemon juice or fresh lime juice for the vinegar and you will have a very refreshing and simple salad for a summer day.
Another form is a cooked dressing which may be bottled and kept for a longer time than the French dressing or the mayonnaise.
This is the most delicious oil for salad dressing when the flavor is liked and when it can be afforded.
There are now in the market clarified cottonseed oil and corn oil that may be used in mayonnaise dressing, and the flavor is not unacceptable, and certainly superior to the poorer grades of olive oil which quite likely contain one of these oils as an adulterant. Cottonseed oil makes a better substitute for olive oil then does corn oil as it is at present refined.
Butter may be used in boiled salad dressing for those who dislike the flavor of the oils.
These may be either vinegar or lemon juice, and many people with whom the vinegar disagrees can eat a salad made with lemon juice. The acid should not be used in excess in any case; the best dressings do not give a distinctively acid taste.
Salt, mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika.