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What's Your Salad Style?

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For along time my salads were composed of fancy greens, vinaigrettes with different vinegars, minced shallots, and mustard, and nuts, fruits, baked goat cheese, etc. Then I jumped to large, hearty, American-style salads, piled with vegetables, croutons, cheeses, and Ranch dressing (used to hate it). Now, I am a minimalist. My favorite salad is baby greens with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. I eat it with my breakfast and it provides the most yummy fresh note with eggs, toast, and fruit.

EDIT: Throughout my salad journey I have also gone down the grain salad road - I'm not including that here because it might be another entire thread someday!

What is your salad style? Recipes always welcome!

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  1. In your opinion, is it a salad if it has no dressing?

    Cuz, that's how I roll.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      YES! I ate my salad without dressing for the first couple of decades of my life - I thought it was disgusting. Well, it was, actually. Gloppy orange "french" dressing, for example!!

      1. re: sandylc

        Is it salad if the lettuce is left out?

        When decent lettuce was hard to find or sad looking greens were avail, I started leaving it out. Turns out while I like lettuce in place of bread (egg, tuna or chicken salad rolled in lettuce leaves) I don't really miss it in salad. I like all the add ons about a salad. So now unless I can get nice, simple greens I just make salads with any # of combinations of roasted vegetables, cheese, fresh pears, etc. some lemon juice..

        The only exception is Caesar salad in a restaurant known for making it exceptionally well.

        1. re: HillJ

          When you say "lettuce" are you including things like butter lettuce, or is it just iceberg?

          If it's just iceberg, I don't consider it a salad if it does have iceberg in it. At that point, it's just rabbit food to me.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I'm saying is it considered a green salad with no lettuce at all. Instead sliced cucumber, celery, red onion, roasted beets, etc. No lettuce.

            1. re: HillJ

              I would call that a vegetable salad. I don't consider it a green salad if there are no greens.

              But vegetable salad seems kinda silly and redundant, even though it isn't really.

              1. re: HillJ

                Oh, yes, absolutely.

                In fact, those are my favorite kinds!

        2. re: ipsedixit

          NO! That's just a bowl of leaves!!

          I kid.

        3. my mom always eschewed salad dressings, olive oil, or even lemon juice on salads - dry, dry, dry. but, for better or for worse, that's how i enjoy them still to this day. i like colorful peppers, red onions, cherry tomatoes, and sometimes dill pickles or pickeled jalapenos for an added kick -

          2 Replies
          1. re: ahuva

            I think most people would be surprised how good salads are without dressing.

            1. re: sandylc

              Or vegetables in general.

          2. My salad style depends upon the greens available, the time of year, the heat/cold of the day and what I feel like. That can mean hearts of romaine creamy Caesar with croutons fried in olive oil, arugula with chopped apple in a Roquefort vinaigrette or right now baby greens with olive oil, Meyer lemon juice and zest with a slice of homemade Italian bread. Oh and when frisee looks good, that with a mustard/bacon dressing topped with a poached egg is perfect.

            1. I love veggies and consider many variations wonderful. I prefer full grown lettuces to baby greens and make my own vinaigrette. It always has oil n vinegar, usually mustard unless I'm going a different route. Sometimes i use salsa many types as a dressing instead. Past those I will add fresh or pickled vegetable of many sorts. Unless its a classic ceasar I don't want cheese. Finally frequently a hard boiled egg for the protein.

              1. So many styles and iterations depending on if it is a meal, or a side.

                If it's a side, usually romaine hearts, grape tomaties, some feta and a vinegraitte dressing (Mr. Vuitton makes it); or a greek salad as a side.

                If it is a meal, then the above romaine salad plus chickpeas or kidney beans, olives, shredded carrot, chicken or tofu for protein, perhaps a grain, perhaps a nut or dried fruit.

                Also, if a meal, baby spinach as a base, topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms, blue cheese, a few ounces of steak, fresh pepper, Frank;s Red Hot and Peppercorn dressing

                Another salad meal is biteside baked Ahke and Bake chicken pieces on a bed of iceberg with some grape tomatoes, feta, olives, Franks and Ranch or peppercorn dressing

                Then there is the grain based salads,,,

                I was using baby spinach as a base for all salads for a while, but needed a switch up so I went to romaine

                1 Reply
                1. re: CocoaChanel

                  Ditto. It depends on the purpose of the salad.

                  If it's a side dish with my dinner, then simple leaf lettuce with a mustard vinaigrette. Vinaigrette varies somewhat in terms of what type of oil, what type of vinegar, and whether I add ground flax or wheat germ to the dressing.

                  If salad is the meal, then it expands to include many types of vegetables, maybe some fruits, and a protein source. Still lettuce based, though. The dressing stays the same.

                  Lately I've taken to adding either some leftover pasta, quinoa, or other grain to the same lettuce based + vegetable + protein dish.

                  I have a tough time making grain based salads a complete meal. That said, I can eat leftover quinoa + protein as a quick lunch. The quinoa is usually leftover from last night's meal. So is that just leftovers eaten room temperature, or is it a salad? I think that's where the definition of "salad" starts to hit the edge....

                2. Style? Lazy, I suppose

                  Open bag of supermarket mixed leaves and put on plate. Open bottle of dressing and pour over. Eat.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Harters

                    Ditto here. I only very occasionally make my own dressing, mostly use store-bought. If I want to get crazy I might add a bit of chopped up bacon or some shredded parm cheese, but that's about it.

                  2. Great thread!

                    I agree about the dressing...unless it's olive oil, I don't pour it on, even if it's something I like. I keep in on the side and dip, and then, usually only boring greens like lettuce, because I want to "taste" a good tomato, arugula, etc.

                    Like most posters, my tastes depend on the season and what's available, but I tend to either go minimalist (as in caprese...though I do love your baby greens recipe) or a big hoopdeedoo clean-out-the-crisper salad with a lettuce, cuke, carrots, marinated mushrooms, olives, tomato, avocado, sunflower seeds, etc etc.

                    1. Since I brown bag my lunch every day, I like to have a cold side dish to my customary roasted chicken drumstick. Love to have leftover veggies like beets or green beans. Sometimes I dress the green beans with a french celery seed dressing I make. Almost always add thinly sliced red onions. Most of the time I just toss with some EVO and either wine or balsamic vinegar, some salt and maybe some dried herbs.
                      I'm learning to like kale and need to do that since it's so easy to grow. That reduces my grocery bill since I'm not buying romaine lettuce all winter.
                      Sometimes I use a grain but more likely if it's not green, it's canned dried beans mixed with something else. I'll save the fancier tomato laden salads for summer although sometimes I buy grape tomatoes during the winter.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dfrostnh

                        french celery seed dressing? how do you make that?

                      2. When I was a kid, it was iceberg lettuce only with either ranch or Italian dressing. I MIGHT eat it if it had those shredded carrots and red cabbage in it, but it depended on my mood. Croutons were okay, but I have always found them a pain to eat. If you spear them, the fall apart. If you don't, they fall off your fork!

                        I slowly moved into romaine lettuce, then spring mix and whatnot. I started adding onions and carrots, then celery, then even cucumbers, which I used to avoid like the plague. Cheese and meat go on sometimes.

                        I still can't do anything but ranch dressing, though. I made my own vinaigrette once (I think it was from Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and hated it, and haven't tried since.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Kontxesi

                          I feel the same way about chick peas as you do about croutons. I love them in my salad, but they are impossible to keep on the fork!

                          1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                            Love croutons, scoop em' up.

                        2. Until I was a teenager, salad for me was some chopped up iceberg lettuce with a copious amount of Miracle Whip. In summer, garden grown Jersey tomatoes were a welcome addition. Then, for a few years, I favored cocktail sauce (heavy on the horseradish) on my iceberg. These days, having tired of bottled dressings, I make my own vinaigrette, usually a balsamic/Dijon/Honey concoction that goes on a Romaine, sweet onion, cucumber, radish, and tomato salad. However, I still, on occasion, scarf up the ends of the Romaine head with a dollop of Miracle Whip on each bite. Hey, it says Salad Dressing right on the label. :-)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: grampart

                            This was what my Nana served, except she was a Hellman's gal.

                          2. I am often the kind of guy who enjoys his food hearty and meaty, but I am happy to get behind salads because of the variety of textures and flavors they offer. The progression of bites can be as varied as a tapas dinner. Certainly a salad can be composed of nothing but mixed greens or even just iceberg lettuce and I would not turn up my nose. But if I'm making a salad I would *want* to eat, it's going to be brimming with earthy beets, sweet shrimp, briny feta, smoky almonds and anything else I can get my hands on (except fruit, just can't bring myself to mix fruits and savories).

                            And as a Midwesterner, a love of creamy dressings is writ upon my soul, but nowadays I stick to healthier vinaigrettes.

                            1. I'm sort of all over the place, but an odd favorite for enough decades to probably qualify is/was tomato and lettuce tossed with Lawry's seasoning salt, then let sit a bit while juices are drawn out. (We were kids with better things to do than cook. :)

                              Nowadays wilted iceberg isn't quite my style, so other greens are added shortly before eating and I have lots of fun with various ingredients, but the seasoned tomato juices are still/always my very favorite dressing. And that's without even considering that these days it's one of the few things I can eat all I want of without worrying about calories.

                              1. The one thing that I miss most about College was the salad bar. Big bowl full of lettuce, baby spinach, veggies, beans, cheese, and a smidgen of ranch dressings. Ate one of those twice a day.

                                When we have a CSA (spring/summer/fall), it's a daily salad of whatever we have in our share. Usually cukes, tomatoes, carrots with grated parm cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and evoo. Sometimes we make a meal out of it with grilled shrimp or chicken.

                                Don't eat as much salad in the winter. Sometimes I buy one one of those plastic containers of mixed baby greens and spinach (50/50 mix) and pick up some toppings from the salad bar and antipasto bar to put on top.

                                Favorite salad is spinach w/strawberries with balsamic vinaigrette.

                                1. My favourite salads include some sort of green (currently often arugula), a fruit or berry, cheese, nuts and onion. I almost never use commercial dressings as I prefer fresh. I probably use balsamic in my dressings a good 50% of the time.

                                  But that can take many forms. A current fave has arugula, roasted beets, pecans, dried cranberry and avocado, along with either goat or blue cheese. However, I am also really into a beet, fennel and blood orange salad right now.

                                  I absolutely LOVE salad though, and will happily eat pretty much anything I'm offered. However, if all that is available for dressing is bottled, I'm likely to top it just with salt and pepper.

                                  1. growing up there was a salad on the table every night. Iceberg letuce (and tomatoes if it was fancy) mixed with miracle whip. That was salad.
                                    Then my mother remarried and salad became iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, chopped bell peppers, onions, mixed with bottled Italian dressing. SO exotic.

                                    Then I moved to California and everything was revealed.
                                    I love salad and practically live on salad(s). Tonight it will be tuna with green beans.

                                    I don't have a favorite per se, but I am very known to not include greens at all, just mix protein with vegetables and dress accordingly. I don't care much for bottled dressings though. And I detest Miracle Whip with a capital D.

                                    1. Throughout my salad journey I have also gone down the grain salad road - I'm not including that here because it might be another entire thread someday!
                                      ~~~~~~~~~
                                      Already is ;) For your reading pleasure...
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861003
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/393723
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/536165
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/633515

                                      As for my salad style, it depends on the season, the meal, the venue, and my mood. But I typically like to have it as a main course, and it's usually a base of at least 2 lettuces/greens - romaine, green or red leaf, kale, chard, arugula, spinach - plus shredded red cabbage. I load it up with a ton different vegetables which might include cucumber, tomato, mushroom, sweet bell pepper, some type of onion (scallion, shallot, chive, red onion), artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, beets, pepperoncini or pickled jalapeño, radishes, avocado...you get the idea. Add a generous serving of protein, occasionally a little cheese, and maybe a sprinkle of seeds or chopped nuts. I don't do fruit on/in salad unless it's a seasonal dish I'm serving to guests. Dressing is always homemade, I haven't bought any in years. I usually like a very acid-heavy vinaigrette, though sometimes I'll go creamy - I love to use powdered buttermilk for a ranch-style dressing.

                                      1. Minimalist here as well. Best salad is any kind of lettuce, baby tomatoes and any kind of onions. For bonus points, throw on a little bit of bacon, some chickpeas, some edamame and artichoke hearts.

                                        Then...salt it up and it's good to go. Absolutely keep the dressing away from the plate!!!

                                        1. My favourite is Beet salad with greens and goat cheese. I have it with an orange vinaigrette. Found it on a cooking blog called Alexandra cooks. I used to hate salads but this one is my favourite.

                                          1. The basics are always greens + some form of meat/seafood + tomatoes. I rarely, if ever, eat salads without some animal protein included and never make them at home without it and tomatoes as I have a weird love of them. Then, I usually keep the rest simple with 2 or 3 of a sprinkle of bacon or cheese and a simple vinaigrette. I will sometimes do a Cobb salad but I pare down the ingredients and usually exclude a couple.

                                            1. hm, mostly green salads with vinaigrettes for me. our basic salad is romaine or butter lettuce with shredded carrots and thin sliced green onions, with a basic balsamic dressing or a soy/rice wine vinegar/ginger dressing, adding in avocados and tomatoes seasonally. if we're going fancy, it becomes a mixed green with mustard-balsamic dressing, with blue or goat cheese crumbles, toasted walnuts and finely sliced apples or pears. i love a good ceasar at a restaurant, but haven't really bothered to master it at home. any good tutorials out there for creamy dressings?

                                              The one non-lettuce salad I just adore can only be had in the depths of summer. One perfect tomato, one perfect avocado, optional finely minced shallots, dressed with a glug of fancy olive oil and a smaller glug of fancy balsamic and a sprinkle of sea salt. heaven!

                                              1. I like all types of salads. Depends on my mood. When I was a kid my mom would make a really tasty salad of in-season tomatoes, onion, and a dressing of either just mayo or sour cream. Too fattening for me these days, but maybe I'll try it with Greek yogurt. Also, nothing beats a summertime tomato, cucumber and onion salad with just olive oil and vinegar.

                                                My one salad "quirk" is that I have to eat my salad WITH my meal, not before. I like the contrast of whatever I'm eating and the tanginess and crunchiness of the salad.

                                                1. I'm what they call a serial salad head. I almost *always* serve salad with dinner, unless salad *is* dinner.

                                                  I love all kinds of salads, and make whatever I am in the mood for -- in the winter, one of my favorites is with shaved fennel, grapefruit, blue cheese & toasted walnuts in walnut vinaigrette, or mâche with chopped egg, walnuts, avocado in a creamy dressing, Belgian endive with tangerine in a tangy lemon cream dressing with lots of fresh ground pepper.

                                                  Butter lettuce is fantastic with April Bloomfield's lemon-caper-dressing as a side for fatty meats.

                                                  Love a good Caesar or just romaine & grape tomatoes with blue cheese dressing.

                                                  BLT salads make a regular appearance @casa lingua.

                                                  LOVE German-style cucumber salad -- both the vinegar & the sour cream version, with a slight pref for the creamy one. Both include a serious dose of dill.

                                                  In the summer, I often include grilled veggies which will just be drizzled with good olive oil and a nice vinegar, Greek salad is also often on the plate -- good tomatoes, cukes, red onion, feta, just tossed with a good olive oil & oregano.

                                                  Really, if one can get good tomatoes, I'll just have those tossed with some sea salt, olive oil and sliced scallions or chopped fresh parsley & diced red onion.

                                                  The possibilities are endless. Thankfully :-)