Most nights we have salad at dinner. Probably four nights a week, sometimes more. It almost always has greens and cucumber, but otherwise the salads vary. Arugula, mache, romaine lettuces; blueberries, oranges, pear; all varieties of vegetables – crunchy carrots and crisp peppers, soft avocado, sweet tomatoes, grilled asparagus; salty Romano cheese. Even in winter, when there isn’t a lot of fresh produce, we eat a green salad and add shredded cabbage or dried fruits: something not so season-specific.
It is always after our main course. Occasionally with the main course if we’re having something like quiche and salad, or bean tacos with tangy cabbage salad. But never as an appetizer… we just always have it after dinner.
This spring I went to a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We shared 3 salads between 5 of us, and, wait for it, they were appetizers! The salads were really nice: a Caesar with lots of shaved Parmigianno Reggiano pieces atop crisp, crisp romaine and herby croutons; a bed of baby arugula with still-warm sauteed mixed mushrooms in a garlicky dressing; and a caprese with soft tomatoes, even softer cheese and leaves of basil sitting on top.
So now, though I still always have my salad after dinner, I find myself thinking about how nice those shared salads were. It was a friendly way to eat salad at a restaurant: large communal dishes in the centre, so we all took what we liked. As we would at home, but at home we would not have 3 different bowls of salad to choose from. We share one well-dressed mixed salad.
I don’t expect to start eating salad appetizers at home; it’s just not my way. But I might start making a couple varieties for one meal. Not an at-home salad bar of options, but 2 composed salads instead of one. One with arugula and tomatoes and boiled eggs in the dressing to make it creamy, and something else like dried cranberries and grapefruit pieces with leaf lettuce. Or romaine and fennel, with olives and chickpeas and another with no greens at all.
I’m definitely starting to see the merit in sharing more than one salad. Just not before my dinner.
How do you eat your salads? And what do you put in them?