The two important points in the preparation of the material for salad are, first, that everything should be thoroughly dry, and, second, thoroughly chilled. The importance of these two points cannot be overemphasized, and they are of equal value in salad making. Many a salad is unpalatable because it is watery and wilted. For the preparation of green vegetables see Chapter VII (Vegetables And Vegetable Cookery). Vegetables should be cut in cubes or sometimes in slices. Meat, poultry, and shellfish should be cut in small pieces or chopped. The prepared meat should be mixed with some of the oil and acid and allowed to stand in an ice box for some time before it is dressed and arranged for serving. This process is called marinating in the cookbooks, and gives a flavor to the salad that it cannot have if a dressing is poured over the meat just before serving.
Fig. 67. - A cucumber salad.
Several well-known combinations will at once occur to you. Meat salads usually have a mixture of celery. Several vegetables may be used together, as beans and carrots, or carrots, peas, and string beans with lettuce. Apples, nuts, and celery make a pleasing combination. Indeed there would seem to be no end to the possibilities here.
The principle here is to make the dish attractive with as little labor as possible. Everything served as a garnish should be eatable. A bed of crisp dry lettuce leaves is the most attractive setting for any salad. When this is not procurable, cress makes an attractive border to a salad. Figure 68 shows you a salmon jelly molded in a ring and attractively served in lettuce. Figure 67 shows a cucumber placed on lettuce leaves, dressed with a French dressing and sprinkled with chopped peppers. The cucumber is sliced ready to serve; the slices being cut not entirely through the cucumber. This is rapidly prepared and is most attractive. When the salad is arranged in its dish, it should be put in the ice box and allowed to remain until it is time to take it to the table. The salad is sometimes served on individual plates.
Fig. 68. - A salad with salmon molded in gelatin.