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What makes a "salad" a "salad"?

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I just made a sweet potato salad that I serve at room temperature. The recipe says serve "warm or room temperature" and it got me thinking- what defines a salad as a salad? Pasta served warm is a pasta dish. Served room temperature or cold it is pasta salad. Potato salad is potato salad warm or cold. So, it's not the temperature. Slaws are salads. Salads can be made with vinegar of without. Mayo, no mayo, oil, no oil.

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  1. Whatever you do, do not google "salad means" and try to ascertain the answer that way. Learn from my mistake.

    1. No, no. Pasta served cold is leftovers. Pasta with salad dressing on it is salad. Salads may possibly be ID'd by the presence of vinegar or another acidic liquid as one of their primary seasonings. How's that.

      1. A dressing, and a mixture of ingredients. And yet not everything with a dressing is a salad, and there are a few salads that are not a mixture of ingredients.

        This is perplexing. Perhaps it would be easier to define what is not a salad.