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Eat your salad after the entree?

  • k

It is my understanding that this is common in Europe. I'm used to eating the salad first but this causes a problem with some home cooked meals. I'm thinking of entrees that need several minutes of last minute cooking and plating but also need to be served piping hot.

For example, we are planning Red Snapper Meuniere tomorrow night. The fish and sauce will not take long at all to cook but I'm not sure that I want to eat my salad first and then cook the fish. On the other hand I can prep all the salad, make the dressing and put it all in the refrigerator. After we eat our fish it will only take a minute to toss the salad.

Also, another alternative is to do as my mom did and serve the salad along with everything else as a side dish.

How do you handle this?

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  1. What are the ingredients in the salad? Ate you serving anything else with the fish?

    1. Before ~ During ~ Never after ~~~

      1. simple.

        - serve and eat the salad.
        - take a break to cook and plate the fish
        - eat the fish.

        No need to rush things out,

        Personally, I'd eat the salad after.


        1. We always have salad after, but we are in Europe. Also we don't mix dressing (except for puntarelle).

          1. I like salad after, just what I grew up with , in NYC, not europe. But I always serve a veggie with the main too.

            1. In northern Europe, there is not commonly a salad course in our various national cuisines, so the question doesnt arise for me. As a standalone dish, salad only ever appears as a starter. Other than that, it may be an accompaniment to the main course, instead of vegetables. In France, as well as it being a starter, you will see it accompany a restaurant cheese course and it works very well there.

              Living in the north, I'm not as familiar with southern Europe cuisines (and then only as a tourist) but I've never seen a restaurant salad course, other than as a starter in the countries I visit regularly (Cyprus, Malta, Spain)

              1. I prefer my salad after, and if it is served with the main I always eat the salad last. But, I will happily eat it whenever it is served, even first. I say do what fits your schedule for the meal best and don't worry about which is correct or proper.

                1. Salad isn't really an "additional" coursein Europe. Many hearty salads are served either as a starter or as a main course but not as a course between starter and main or after main - salad nicoisse for example. Salad leaves may be served instead of vegtables with some mains or starters and as Harters says salad may be served with a cheese course in France (before dessert).

                  In southern Europe the salads tend to be part of an antipasto, meze or hors d' oeuvre which are served as a starter. A salad as a seperate course between starter and main is really only a US tradition.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: PhilD

                    "In southern Europe the salads tend to be part of an antipasto, meze or hors d' oeuvre which are served as a starter."
                    I thought in southern Europe (e.g. Italy) a green salad is often served as a contorno [corrected from contorto, :-) ] with the secondo/"main dish" or as a palate cleanser after the mains? It would be hearty salads - like the salad nicoise - or other kinds of salads - like an insalata caprese, or insalata di mare, as examples - that tended to be served before the mains? The sequence can vary depending on the place (and whether you ask for it or - perhaps - whether you are perceived as USAmerican ;-) ) but it thought your characterization was a little off...

                    Here's an old CH thread, amongst others:

                    1. re: huiray

                      In Italy a plain green salad is never served before anything, except if somebody has some idiosyncrasy. It is sometimes served as a contorno (not contorto, but the concept may be worth developing...), but is almost always actually eaten after the main course. The proper place to serve salad (the practice of my most proper friend) is after everything else and before dessert.

                      1. re: mbfant

                        Oops, yes, "contorno", not "contorto". Heh, the latter might be of interest, indeed... I've edited my post, thanks.

                        Yes, what you say was what I thought - in contrast to the previous post. I've always enjoyed lovely little salads of leaves of this and that sort, some crisp, some delicate, tossed simply with oil & vinegar with Western-style meals; or with something like that light savory/mildly sweet raspberry dressing a favorite Italian restaurant here (alas, now defunct) put out at the very end of their meals. Gratis.

                      2. re: huiray

                        I am obviously wrong, i have only lived in Europe for 35 years!

                        But in my experience (which is far from limited) most green salads are really served as accompianments are served as an alternative to vegtables with a main courses or the cheese board. OK sometimes they serve it as a palette cleanser in Italy (one European country) but not someting i personally experienced on my visits. Overall an inter-course salad is very uncommon in every other European country. Yet it is pretty much standard in most decent US restaurants so i think my characterisation is reasonble. I wasn't being rude i simply wanted to correct anassumption that it was a European habit.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          Yet as other posters have mentioned here on this thread it is not uncommon in "southern European" places (your phrase) to have a green salad together with the mains or after. ;-)

                    2. My original post perhaps did not clearly explain that I am talking about a simple dinner at home with just my wife and I. Not really concerned with proper or correct.

                      Mainly just wondering aloud if I would enjoy my salad as much after the main course as I do before. I guess there is one good way to find out!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: kengk

                        You would enjoy it for two reasons: (1) you eat it after you have finished your wine (presumably), with which the vinegar or lemon in the salad does not go, and (b) it is a nice palate cleanser between main and dessert. Obviously this does not apply to salade ni├žoise or other fortified salads, just crisp greens.

                        1. re: kengk

                          You stated it wascommon in Europe, i was simply correcting that statement

                          1. re: PhilD

                            Actually, I said it was my understanding which is based on having read it somewhere or other, probably on the interwebs. : )

                            1. re: kengk

                              if i'm cooking at home, i have the salad either with dinner - just serve it in a huge bowl on the table and people can eat it first, during, or last.

                              if i'm at a restaurant, i like time to eat the salad first.

                              1. re: kengk

                                In this case I would just serve the salad in a bowl at the same time. When I'm at home I serve the salad this way.

                                1. re: kengk

                                  As someone who eats salad 6 outta 7 days, I have a very simple solution for you. Why don't you eat the salad *with* the fish, as a side dish? Why on earth does it have to be Before Or After?

                                  Don't you make the rules in your own house?

                                  1. re: kengk

                                    We frequently eat the salad after the main. Usually it refers to the typical American tossed lettuce salad and bottled dressing. We don't put any dressing on the salad until just before we eat the salad. We do this not because of timing for cooking the entree, but because frequently we are full after eating the entree and we then cover the salad with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator for a later meal.

                                    If I were in your situation with a special, composed salad I would do what you are thinking and eat it after the fish. If it were a situation where we had dinner guests I would cook the fish while everyone else was eating their salads and I would eat my salad at the same time as the fish.

                                  2. I always have my salad after the main course. It totally screws with the server's heads when I order this specifically when eating out. 50% of the time, the order is correct. The other 50% results in a reduction of their tip.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: mzsnowhite

                                      this is easily solved by ordering it when you are almost done with your main course.

                                      1. re: magiesmom

                                        I prefer not to do that. If the server is unable to follow instructions, so be it.

                                        1. re: mzsnowhite

                                          I'd prefer to have it how I want and not to be annoyed, myself.

                                    2. I would just serve it with the fish.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: huiray

                                        Ah, beat me to it. Kind of a 'no duh' "problem".

                                      2. How about "any order you prefer?"

                                        I like salad with my main course as the acidic dressings offer a pleasant counterpoint to any buttery/meaty/oily component of the entree.