So much variety exists among salads that it is somewhat difficult to give a comprehensive definition of this class of foods. In general, however, They are food mixtures either arranged on a plate or tossed and served with a moist dressing. A dish of green herbs or vegetables, sometimes cooked, and usually chopped or sliced, sometimes mixed with fruit or with cooked and chopped cold meat, fish, etc.
They are usually served with a dressing. It can be either hot or cold. The selection of salad ingredients depends upon seasons. Salads are unique. They can either accompany a main course, act as an appetizer, served as an extra party dish, or just plain served alone. A high-protein salad, such as lobster salad, replaces the meat course, whereas, a light salad of vegetables or fruits may be used as an additional course.
For the most part, salads take their name from their chief ingredient, as, for instance, chicken salad, tomato salad, pineapple salad, etc. Just what place salads have in the meal depends on the salad itself.
Salads In Your Diet
Salads are often considered to be a dish of little importance; that is, something that is added to a meal. While this is the case with meals composed of a sufficient variety of foods, salads have a definite place in majority of households. Often there is a tendency to limit green vegetables or fresh fruits in the diet, but if the members of a family are to be fed an
ideal diet it is extremely important that some of them are included in each day's meals.
The most effective and appetizing way to include them in a meal is the serving of salads. One who gives much attention to the artistic side of the serving of food will often use a salad to carry out a color scheme in the meal.
This is, of course, the least valuable use that salads have, but it is a point that should not be overlooked. The chief purpose of salads in a meal is to provide something that the rest of the foods served in the meal lack.
Although salads, through their variety, offer an opportunity to vary meals, it requires a little attention in selecting them if a properly balanced meal is to be served. Salads that are high in food value or contain ingredients similar to those found in the other dishes served in the meal, should be avoided with dinners or with other heavy meals.
For instance, a fish or a meat salad should not be served with a dinner, for it would supply a quantity of protein to a meal that is already sufficiently high in this food substance because of the fact that meat also is included. Such a salad, however, has a place in a very light luncheon or supper, for it helps to balance such a meal.
The best salad to be served with a dinner that contains a number of heavy dishes is a vegetable salad, if enough vegetables are not already included, or a fruit salad, if the dessert does not consist of fruit. In case a fruit salad is selected, it is often made to serve for both the salad and the dessert course.
If the meal is a light one and the salad is to be served as the principal dish, it should be sufficiently heavy and contain enough food value to serve the purpose for which it is intended. On the other hand when the meal is a heavy one it is always better to chose a lighter salad. For instance, with meat or fish as the main course of the meal, a fish, egg, or cheese salad would obviously be the wrong thing to serve.
Instead, a light salad of vegetables or fruits should be selected for such a meal. It should be remembered that if the other dishes of a meal contain sufficient food value to make the meal properly nourishing, a salad containing a rich dressing will provide more than a sufficient supply of calories and consequently should be avoided.
Another point that should not be neglected in selecting a salad is that it should be in contrast to the rest of the meal as far as flavor is concerned. While several foods acid in flavor do not necessarily unbalance a meal so far as food substances and food value are concerned, they provide too much of the same flavor to be agreeable to most persons.
For instance, if the meal contains an acid soup, such as tomato, and a vegetable with a sour dressing, such as beets, then a salad that is also acid will be likely to add more of a sour flavor than the majority of persons desire.
Composition of Salads
One of the advantages of salads is that the ingredients from which they can be made are large in number. In fact, almost any cooked or raw fruit or vegetable, or any meat, fowl, or fish, whether cooked expressly for this purpose or left over from a previous meal, may be utilized in the making of salads.
The composition, as well as the total food value, of salads depends entirely on the ingredients of which they are composed. An understanding of the composition of the ingredients used in salads will enable us to judge fairly accurately whether the salad is low, medium, or high in food value, and whether it is high in protein, fat, or carbohydrate. This matter is important, and should receive consideration from all who prepare this class of food.
Fruits, both canned and raw, are largely used in the making of salads. As with vegetables, almost any combination of them makes a delicious salad when served with the proper dressing. salads that are high in protein have for their basis, or contain, such ingredients as meat,
fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, nuts, or dried beans. As far as meats are concerned, they are not used so extensively in salads as are fruits and vegetables. The amount of protein such a salad contains naturally varies with the quantity of high-protein food that is used.
The fat in salads is more often included as a part of the dressing than in any other way, but the quantity introduced may be very large. A French dressing or a mayonnaise dressing, as a rule, contains a sufficient proportion of some kind of oil to make the salad in which it is used somewhat high in fat.
For the most part, salads do not contain carbohydrate in any quantity. If fruits are used, the salad will, of course, contain a certain amount of sugar. Salads in which potatoes, peas, beets, and other vegetables are used also contain starch or sugar in varying quantities. However, with the exception of potato salad, salads are probably never taken as a source of carbohydrate.
In majority of salads, mineral salts are an important ingredient. Green-vegetable salads are the most valuable sources of mineral salts, and fruit salads come next. Vegetable and fruit salads serve to supply cellulose in the diet. Unless the meals contain sufficient cellulose in some other form, the use of such salads is an excellent way to introduce this material.
Of course, the salads composed of foods high in cellulose are lower in food value than others, but the salad dressing usually helps to make up for this deficiency.