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Do You Eat Your Salad Before or After Your Main Entree?

  • t

I've been all over and have to say that I've had salad both ways. In some cases, I've really enjoyed my salad after my entrée. Not sure if it's more family tradition.

How about you? Are you a salad before or after and why?

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  1. Neither.I like my salad on my dinner plate and eat it together with my meal.

    1. Depends. The Italian side if the family eats it after. At home we eat it in the same plate but I usually eat it first because it isn't very good. At a restaurant I enjoy it before my meal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: melpy

        I have to say the same for my Italian family, most before but, some after.

        1. I'm a salad chick..
          I've enjoyed before and after the entrée.. depends on the dish.
          I've made some fab salads as my entree..friends say that I do salads like nobody else.
          Guess I got that going for me, which is nice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Beach Chick

            Nothing like a fresh crisp salad with an awesome dressing. Lately, I've been enjoying grilled romaine with a drizzle of EVOO and aged balsamic.

          2. At home after. In restaurants before while others eat apps.

            1. Salad would be an integral part of a course (starter or main). Serving a separate salad course just seems odd to me - not what happens in my culture (or of those in countries I regularly visit).

              1. At home, we serve the salad with the main course, but mostly tend to have it after the entree.

                In restaurants, it's typically a way to spend time waiting for the main course to arrive as we rarely order appetizers anymore (99% of which seem to be the same deep fried and/or overly common mediocre items very unworthy of their calorie count) .

                  1. I have company for dinner most every Sunday ( family), and we serve dinner family style. The salad is put on the table with the dinner, and most everyone eats the salad after they eat their dinner. had to stop and think about this!

                    1. At home I eat it with my meal unless I am hosting a dinner party then it is always served after. IMO when salad is served after a meal it is usually a palate cleanser and it is usually a plain green salad with a nice tart vinaigrette with some shallots-no bacon, cheese or nuts and definitely no sweet dressing or crispy croutons/tortillas/crispy noodles.. If I eat it at a restaurant, I usually eat it first and it may contain extras, such as fruit or cheese.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gloriaa

                        I've had those simple salads after a meal, just as you describe as a palate cleanser. It does work.

                      2. For some reason, I eat my veggies, including salad, before the main entree. Well, usually I eat 3/4 of the veggies, then 3/4 of the meat and finish it off in the same order. My parents were never very strict about eating veggies first so not sure where I picked this up from.

                        1. I'm surprised to see how many others say "at the same time". That's mainly how we ate growing up. It was in a separate salad bowl, but there during the meal, generally not before.
                          Now, with DH, I've been pushing gently to serve it with the meal, separate bowl or same plate.
                          It's just SO much easier for me from a timing standpoint. I don't like sitting down and enjoying my salad, then having to pop back up and do the a la minute stuff, then plate, sit down and pick up the meal.
                          He's coming around to it ;-)
                          If I have a casserole, or braise that's just waiting there while we enjoy our salads, then sure, we'll eat that before. But again, not a general rule.
                          Never after, but that's just habit and I'd do in Rome when in Rome.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: monavano

                            I've never been served a salad course in Rome, or anywhere else in Italy for that matter.

                            1. re: Harters

                              You're joking, right? Please say yes!

                              1. re: monavano

                                Of course, I'm not joking. Why would I be joking?

                                You simply do not see separate salad courses in Italy. Salads as a starter, of course. Salad accompanying a main course, yes. But a separate course, no, never seen such on a menu; never been served one.

                                FWIW, in several trips over the last 7 - 8 years, we've visited Rome, Pisa, Venice, Lake Garda, Capri and Lucca - so the lack of a salad course seems to be quite widespread in the country. In fact,
                                I can't think of a single country that I visit regularly where a separate salad course is served in a restaurant, with the exception of America.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  OK, the expression goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do".
                                  So, if I were in a restaurant, home or culture that ate salad after the meal, I wouldn't mind it and would do it that way.

                                  It wasn't a literal reference to eating in Rome.

                                  1. when in rome
                                  The full phrase is "When in Rome, do as the Roman's do." But it has become shortened so often, some people don't get it anymore. It's an analogy making use of the strict rule of the ancient Roman empire, and synonomous with "Going with the flow," or doing something because everyone else is doing it.

                                  I hope that helps you understand the expression that I used. I think with this point of reference, you can understand what I was conveying in my post.
                                  Another reference for you:

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    Wow. Who would have thought it, eh? Thanks for the explanation.

                                    So, when you asked if I was joking, you didnt really think I was joking? It was just one of those Roman things?

                                    "Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum"

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      12 years of Catholic school and a good dose of human anatomy and I'm still unable to understand!
                                      It's a Lost in Translation moment!

                                      1. re: monavano

                                        Curious, how many times did the Nuns beat your knuckles with a ruler?

                                  2. re: Harters

                                    I'm confused (or maybe just ignorant?). Isn't a starter a separate course?

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      Yes, a starter is a separate course, as I posted upthread.

                                      Would Americans regard a salad course as a starter? I was presuming not, as I've only ever been served one there as an additional course (after the starter and before the main course).

                              2. re: monavano

                                I love my salad with any kind of braise gravy, sauce...I love hot and cold but understand this is very polarizing so would serve salad on a separate plate.

                                1. re: Gloriaa

                                  Makes total sense that an acidic dressing would cut the fatty richness of braises.
                                  I love the combos too; acid with fattiness and hot and cold.

                                2. re: monavano

                                  When at home, I like putting olives in the salad then after all have consumed their share, I hunt for straggling olives.

                                3. I enjoy eating my salad before my meal. I think growing up and going to family dinners where the first course was not accompanied by the salad has something to do with this.

                                  1. At home, always after the meal (or as BeachChick said, as the meal).

                                    Sometimes before when dining out.

                                    1. At home, I put it on the table with the other food; I may eat it first or last, depending on how much I want it.

                                      On the other end of the spectrum, I can't imagine eating a salad after I've had several other courses. There would be no room.

                                      1. My preference is "at the same time." I loves leaves+protein and that is how I eat at home. Dining out, I generally opt for a salad to start for timing issues with others who are ordering appetizers, but will often ask the server to leave the salad plate so I can enjoy it with my main course. At home, we also set out a cheese and fruit plate "later" in the evening as a dessert, and that plate invariably has a pile of salad greens leaves on it for nibbling.

                                        So I suppose I am mainly a During and After, with wiggle room on the Before front depending upon circumstances.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                          Agree, at a restaurant I always ask for the salad to be left on the table for me.

                                          1. re: cayjohan

                                            Which is why I *hate* it when I keep some salad (which inevitably is served as an appetizer or along with other starters) to have with my main at a restaurant, and the waiter tries to take it. "You still 'workin' on that?" "Why, yes. Please go away and leave my salad."

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              Don't you just hate those pushy wait staff that want to spoil your enjoyment?

                                              1. re: treb

                                                I do. With a red hot chili pepper. I mean passion.

                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                I have long vowed to remember someday to put a hammer and chisel in my bag, so that the next time a server asks if I am still "workin'" on that, I can say "yes, I am" and pull out the hammer and chisel.

                                            2. I eat salad for dessert. And I always have dessert first.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                I've had salad for breakfast, pretty good I'd say!

                                                1. re: treb

                                                  I love leftover Caesar salad for breakfast. Often my kids beat me to it, dang them.

                                                  1. re: tcamp

                                                    Poor training, never let your kids know how good Caesar Salad is!

                                              2. I usually have it before, but I don't mind having it after.

                                                1. We always have salad before entrees. Fill up on the healthy veg, before moving on to whatever unhealthy entree we have chosen for dinner. Although, sometimes salad is the entree!

                                                  1. Most of the time I eat salad with the entrée.

                                                    1. The term salad covers such a wide range that it's difficult to generalize. In terms of its placement in a formal meal of several courses (service a la russe) as popularized in France in the last 200 years or so, the salad was traditionally served after the main course, because its original purpose was as a palate cleanser (this would be a simple salad of greens, some oil, and vinegar). In the US at least, serving salad prior to the main course in a multi-course meal became the rule, and salads became more elaborate. Personally, I do like a simple salad afterwards, for the palate cleansing effect.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: johnb

                                                        Ah, some of what I was looking for, historical reference. Not surprised the French take the lead.

                                                        1. re: johnb

                                                          In the French restaurants of my experience (such as the small town one below, where I've eaten on several occasions) salads now form an entree (starter) or are a stand-alone main course plat, rather than a separate course.

                                                          However, this restaurant serves salad leaves with its cheese course which, of course, follows the main course. Lovely mustardy vinaigrette to dress the leaves. It's unusual but, presumably, links back to a historical placement


                                                        2. I eat it whenever it is served. At home, salad goes on the table along with entrée and is eaten at the same time.

                                                          1. When I'm eating a solo full course salad, ie cobb, chefs loaded with cheese, eggs and meats or having the Italian version an Anitpasto with some excellent quality tuna in EVOO, that's all I want with maybe a great glass of wine.

                                                            1. Usually before or with, or as an entree. Never after.

                                                              1. I eat it when it is put in front of me. I am flexible enough to go with the norms of different cultures.

                                                                1. Before, during, after, or alone.

                                                                  1. I don't understand the question.
                                                                    Why would you be presented with a random salad?

                                                                    It is eaten when it is presented. If the salad is the main course, then it's the main course.... if a starter then it's the first course. Occasionally salad arrives as part of the cheese course.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Peg


                                                                      It's very much an American thing. In restaurants there, you'll be presented with an additional free course of salad leaves. Usually served after the starter.

                                                                      Many Americans seem to think that it is common practice in European countries. But, as you'll know, it isn't.

                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                        I am From France and I live in North America. In a French home salad is always served after the meal, as in every night. I do it in my home and have never been to someone's home in France and not been served a salad after the main before cheese. It is usually a very simple salad. I agree it is not always done in restaurants.

                                                                        1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                          Is it only in France or other European countries? As I recall, not in Italy.

                                                                          1. re: cstr

                                                                            I really just want to speak from personal experiences so will stick to France but by no means am I asserting that France is the only country that eats salad after the meal.

                                                                            1. re: cstr

                                                                              As Gloriaa points out, there may well be differences between what might be served at home and what might be served in a restaurant.

                                                                              As my earlier posts, I've never been served a separate "intermediate" salad course in a restaurant in any of the European countries I regularly visit (Cyprus, France, Belgium, Ireland,Netherlands, Italy, Spain & Malta). My only real experience of home dining in one of those countries is in Spain where, again, I've never been served a salad course. By the by, IIRC, Spain eats more salad per capita than any other European country - they eat it either as a starter or as an accompaniment to the main course, instead of vegetables - pretty much as Peg notes how we eat salad in the UK.

                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                When I lived in Spain my host mother started with salad every day for lunch. The boarders ate salad and bread and then the main and then fruit for dessert.

                                                                                Salad was lettuce, shoestring carats from a jar, tomato, corn, tuna, cucumber, oil and vinegar. In restaurants I would often see white asparagus added.

                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                  Melpy - you pretty much describe the standard Spanish restaurant salad starter dish (the white asparagus also being from a jar).

                                                                                  Family meals that I've enjoyed in Spain have always had a much simpler salad accompaniment to the main course - just lettuce, tomato & onion.

                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                    This was the family salad we ate at home. When I lived there I rarely went to a restaurant. YMMV

                                                                                  2. re: melpy

                                                                                    I like the simplicity of a basic salad. I bet the EVOO made it.

                                                                                2. re: cstr

                                                                                  Not in Germany. Salads are considered appetizers or sides for mains.

                                                                          2. Sometimes salad is saved for after the main course, because sometimes the main course is filling enough and we choose to not eat the salad. On those occasions we wrap the salads in plastic for another meal.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              Sometimes I enjoy a salad the day after, it marinates quite well in the frig.

                                                                              1. After with a couple of exceptions. I like a wedge salad before or with a steak, and I like a salad of avocado, tomato, sweet onion, and white wine vinaigrette as a first course. No idea why. I just like the lightness of salad after the main, have for 60+ years.

                                                                                1. Salad is not a before or after entree/black or white option in my home. A grilled steak, arugula and parmesan salad may be served as an entree or before the entree. Waldorf salad is often served after the appetizer but before the entree. Pasta salad is most often a side dish. Chicken salad is usually a lunch entree. A seasonal fruit salad may be served for dessert.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Fowler

                                                                                    Looks like you have all the bases covered.

                                                                                  2. I'm Australian. I like to have my vegetables WITH the rest of my meal, not seperately. I don't really like it when you eat a plate of cold salad and then they give you a plate of meat and starch afterwards.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                      I've only been once, is that the tradition?