The word “salad” is often used interchangeably with the word “lettuce”, but interestingly it’s actually cognate with the word “salt”, and originally is used to refer to a popular Roman dish of vegetables seasoned with brine. I think this is probably helpful in defining a salad – if there is no dressing at all, or if it’s served hot, or if it doesn’t contain fruit or vegetables as a core ingredient, it’s probably not a salad.
This week’s boxes are rich with salad vegetables, in addition to the classic salad lettuce iceberg (which was actually invented at the turn of the twentieth century!). Swallow Ridge this week have sent us some beautiful snap peas (texture is so important in salads) and Lebanese cucumber, both of which make an excellent addition to a salad. Celery and radish add crunch to a salad as well as a very particular flavour, but garlic and chilli are also great additions to a salad dressing – chilli can be finely chopped but for me garlic is always best microplaned in these situations for maximum pungency and spread through the dressing.
Personally I’m not a huge fan of avocado in a salad – although it can make an excellent base for a dressing – and raw capsicum is a hard no, but I do love raw zucchini in a salad, as it has a slight crunch but also soaks up flavour very well. Both fig and apple are pretty routine salad fruits – fig can be used both raw and roasted in a salad – and cooked broccoli is also great at soaking up dressings, although cauliflower is probably a bit too bland for a good salad. Burgundy Blush are a bit floury for potato salads, but Bismarcks are excellent, and a simple dressing of blended parsley, garlic, salt and olive oil makes a nice vegetal alternative to mayo (although there’s nothing wrong with a mayo-based potato salad either!