The word "salad" comes from the French word salade which is derived from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). In English, the word salad first appeared in the 14th century. Salt is associated with the term because vegetables were seasoned with brine, or salty oil and vinegar dressings during Roman times.
Since then we have indeed consumed a great deal of this green stuff. No doubt because it can be tossed, torn, or julienned, served hot, tepid or cold, and be our main course, first course, or only course! The term, "salad bar" first appeared in 1976. I recall Wendy's being one of the first fast-food restaurants to offer this display of make-your-own-bowl of everything. Even more interesting, the term "salad days," was first used by Shakespeare in 1606 to mean a notion of "green," or a time of "youthful inexperience."1
Perhaps that's how some people feel in the kitchen, "inexperienced," and throwing things in a bowl with a head of lettuce and some briny Kraft dressing seems to be all we needed to feel like we've made a home-cooked meal.
Let's think about it this way instead: I find it to be one of the foundations of creativity. And the canvas for so much more than the receptacle of briny dressing. I'd like to convey to you that this is your platform for experimentation of the most inestimable kind. Take this salad featured in the post for instance, that blends the fruity and acidic elements of grapefruit, with the smooth sweetness of pears, the creaminess of goat cheese, the crunch of toasted pecans and the umami of a dressing with fresh ginger, lemon, garlic and jalapeno all into a fairly sophisticated expression of tossed food. Topped with the mellow and mildly pickled sweetness of white onions and accented with the peppery notes of cilantro this "greenery" just went from lull you to sleep, to LEGENDARY.
Get the recipe here and begin raising yourself from youthful inexperience to rock-star-salad-maker in no time.
1. Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salad
RECIPE: Pear Grapefruit Slaw with a Lemon Ginger Jalapeno Dressing
Serves 6 - Click here for Printable Version
4 C chopped romaine
5 C chopped Napa Cabbage
Clean sections from 2 grapefruits
1 red pear, chopped (no need to peel)
¾ C rough chopped toasted pecans
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small cucumber peeled, seeded and sliced
2-3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/3 C white, sweet onion
¼ C red wine vinegar
2 T white sugar, divided
½ small jalapeño
1 large clove of garlic
1 T chunks of fresh ginger, peeled
¼ C lemon juice
¼ C mild olive oil
Salt and pepper
Slice the white onion into thin rings. Place in a bowl and cover with the red wine vinegar and 1 T sugar. Stir, let sit for at least 1 hour, 4 hours optimal. Then drain and use to garnish the salad.
Combine both greens in a bowl. Add the chopped cilantro, and the sliced cucumber. Cover with wet paper towel and store in fridge until ready to serve.
In a small food chopper, combine the chunks of garlic, peeled ginger, and the jalapeño, along with ¼ C lemon juice. Combine until almost pureed. Now add the olive oil, some salt and pepper, and 1 T of the white sugar. Whizz and blend again. Set aside and store until you’re ready to serve the salad. (I have a really small food processor; one with about a 1 C capacity. It works great for this. But you can also finely grate the garlic and ginger and chop the jalapeño extremely fine in lieu of food chopper.)
Peel grapefruit and isolate sections of grapefruit, cutting them in small half inch chunks. Put in a small bowl and drain off the juice. Don’t strain, just get rid of most of that extra juice. You can also store the pieces of cut pear in with the grapefruit with a splash of fresh lemon juice to keep the pears from browning.
To Plate: To the bowl with the greens, cilantro and cucumbers, add the nuts, grapefruit, pears, and crumbled goat cheese. Cover with the vinaigrette and toss well. Garnish with the sweet pickled onions.
NOTE: It is ideal to assemble all ingredients separately and then combine right before serving so the nuts stay crunchy and the lettuce stays firm. I usually cover the greens with a wet paper towel and keep in the fridge until ready, then mix all the separate ingredients and serve. This is also in the method narrative of the recipe.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style is one of combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.