How to make a garden salad
Learning how to make a garden salad is easy as pieMan or woman cannot survive on salad alone. Oh, to the contrary, vegetarians and vegans would protest. As much as some people love a big, juicy, bloody steak there are others who think there is nothing better, nothing tastier or more satisfying than a garden salad. And, of course, a salad is healthy for you. You canít beat healthy and delicious.
If you grow your own vegetables, the salad is going to be even more pleasing to the palate. You canít top vegetables that come straight from the garden and onto your plate in the same day (or hour) for superior taste.
Start with a big bowl and lettuce. The lettuce should be torn apart by hand. Donít cut it with a knife. You can use one type of lettuce or combine several varieties for more flavor, texture and color.
TYPES OF LETTUCE
There are four main types of lettuce that are used in salad making including iceberg lettuce, which is crunchy. Iceberg lettuce is milder than other lettuces and consists of 90 percent water. Iceberg lettuce is pale green and comes in a compact round head.
The second basic type of lettuce used in salads is romaine lettuce, which is also called "cos" lettuce. Romaine lettuce is particularly good when there are crunchy ingredients, such as onions and cucumbers or even nuts and fruit, in the salad. The leaves are long and pale green. The best and crispest parts of Romaine lettuce are the leaves near the center, which are referred to as romaine hearts. The dark outside leaves and the dark tops of the inner leaves should be discarded and not eaten. If you eat a Caesar salad, itís probably Romaine lettuce.
Butter crunch lettuce is the third type of lettuce, which includes Bibb or Kentucky limestone lettuce and butter or Boston lettuce. This kind of lettuce comes in a round, loosely formed head of soft yet textured leaves that are pale green and get even paler on the inside. This lettuce is moist, tender and sweet. It has a gentle flavor.
Loose lettuce is the fourth main type of lettuce. It does not come in a head but rather on a central stalk. The leaves are tender and mild, soft, large and curly. Remove the leaves by twisting the base to separate the leaves. This lettuce has a subtle flavor.
You are free to toss in some other greens such as chicory, arugula, endive, spinach, escarole, dandelion, mesclun, mache, watercress and radicchio. Arugula is kind of nutty tasting and peppery. Endive is crunchy and bitter tasting. Chichory is bitter and crunchy. Dandelion is somewhat bitter and escarole is crunchy. Mache is rather sweet. Mesclun is sometimes called ďspring mixĒ because it is a mixture of small, young salad leaves. Watercress is crunchy, nutty and peppery and radicchio tastes nutty and bitter. Some people like to add spinach leaves to their garden salad.
Slice garden tomatoes and add them to the lettuce. Add some shredded carrots, red (which are really purple) sliced onions, sliced cucumbers and radishes if you desire. You may choose to throw in some purple cabbage leaves for color and more taste. You can put whatever you want into a garden salad.
Toss the salad or place the vegetables neatly onto the lettuce leaves and donít toss.
Your choices of salad dressings are nearly endless. Experiment and find out if you are a ranch dressing or a blue cheese aficionado. Some diners prefer no salad dressing at all.
Sprinkle some croutons on the garden salad. Croutons can be purchased at the store or you can make them out of bread, sprinkled with garlic salt and coated with butter, which you put under the broiler (in your oven) for a few minutes. When the croutons are brown, remove them from the stove, let them cool for a few minutes and then slice the bread into cubes.
A small garden salad is the perfect complement to most every meal. A large garden salad is a meal in itself.