Simple Salad?

IMG_0198For a dinner with friends I served a tossed salad as the first course. I used romaine lettuce and added some dried cranberries, shredded cabbage, sweet peppers, clementines and pecans. Just ingredients I had available. For dressing just a quick toss with a little oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and fresh ground pepper, too. We ended up talking about salads and dressings as we ate our salads. It got me to thinking. My mother always served the salad before dinner as a first course. I still prefer salad first. I think I enjoy it more that way.

We rarely had any sort of bottle dressing growing up. My Mother really hated most brands of bottle dressings. She had a big wooden salad bowl and she would get the lettuce washed and dried ahead of time so it could crisp up in the fridge. She’d tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and then add an assortment of seasonal veggies. I remember she went through a phase where she would rub the inside of the salad bowl with anchovy paste first. When we were ready for our salad she would toss it with oil and then with the rest of the dressing- vinegar, often with a little sugar in it and some herbs and other seasonings. It always felt special to sit down to eat one of her salads.

Everyone seemed to like the simple dressing last night. Oh, I make creamy dressings sometimes and I must confess a certain weakness for a homemade creamy honey-French dressing once in awhile. But my favorite salad will still be the simple one. Lettuce, preferably an assortment,  a few additions and a light dressing of oil and vinegar or perhaps fresh lemon juice.

So what is your favorite way to dress your salad? Bottled or vinegar and oil?

Do you eat your salad as the start of the meal or with your meal? Anyone eat their salad  after the meal?

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