This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
The character of the salad dressing should be dictated by the place of the salad in the meal. All light vegetable salads, those occasionally containing a little tart fruit, and those which are to constitute a separate course at a dinner, should be served with French dressing, or one of its derivatives. The same dressing may be used on luncheon or supper salads, if desired, but when they are to serve as the main course of the meal, it is customary to use a mayonnaise, boiled or cream dressing. The best rule to follow in deciding on the dressing is to keep in mind the actual salad ingredients. If they are fat and very rich, a boiled dressing should be selected rather than a mayonnaise, which contains a large quantity of fat. If they are deficient in fat, a mayonnaise dressing combines well both dietetically and gastro-nomically. For a fruit salad the dressing may consist of mayonnaise, either plain or combined with a little whipped cream, preferably sour, or it may be of a distinctly sweet type as honey salad dressing.
If a sweet dressing is used, however, the fruit salad must act as dessert, rather than a separate course. In most cases it is preferable partially to combine the salad with a small quantity of French dressing, rather than a large quantity of heavier dressing.
To sum up the requirements for making a "real" salad: All the ingredients must be cold, the greens should be crisp and dry, the salad should be moist, but not "soupy," and, if a substantial salad is made, it should be allowed to stand for some time with the dressing mixed through it. The salad plates should be cold, and the salad itself should be attractively arranged and garnished, for "the eye does half the eating."