Sam adores salads; I don’t. She likes raw greens; I don’t. But when raw greens are combined with fruits, salads become loveable. Adorable, in fact. So, when I prepared a salad for Sam earlier, I decided it would be something I would like to eat too.
Yes, salads can be versatile. For me, that versatility lies in the combination of salad ingredients rather than in the endless variety of salad dressings and condiments that one can toss them with. The thing is, in many restaurants where I’ve ordered salad, I have often been asked if I wanted more grated Parmesan or more pepper, and there had been moments when I wanted to scream, “Don’t you people know anything except to drown salads with grated Parmesan and pepper?” There are a lot of other cheeses that go well with salad and they don’t always have to be grated — they can be torn by hand, or crumbled or shaved. And pepper? Too much pepper can ruin the delicate flavors of salad ingredients.
Then, there’s the matter of the dressing. I mean, seriously, does anyone really think that by simply changing the dressing, a salad would become a new experience every time if the combination of ingredients remains practically the same? A salad dressing is called a dressing for a good reason — it is a dressing, an accessory, a helper. The real life of the salad is in the ingredients, not in the dressing.
So, next time you think salad and you want to get excited about eating tasteless raw leaves, think of what you can combine them with rather than what you can dress them with. In short, get rid of the thinking that salad dressing makers want us to believe — that their products can make or break our salads. No, they can’t. Only we, the ones who make the salad, have the power to do that.
When I prepared a salad earlier, what I did, to be more precise, was to prepare salad ingredients. Then, it was salad bar style. Sam made her own deciding for herself how much croutons, fruits, nuts and what dressing (honey mustard or strawberry vinaigrette) to go with her chosen combination. As an experiment, I made two salads from the ingredients and they were so different from each other.
The first had lettuce, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, mandarin orange segments, herbed croutons and shaved cheese. The dressing was honey-mustard.
The second salad had lettuce, cucumber rings, lychees, mangoes and roasted peanuts. With strawberry vinaigrette.
Which was nicer? I don’t know — Speedy ate the first; I ate the second; and Sam made her own.
The honey-mustard dressing is the same as the ginger, honey and mustard dressing but minus the ginger. The recipe for the strawberry vinaigrette, I still have to write.
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