Biological Aspects of Making a Salad

Nutrition is the outstanding biological consideration which makes salads important. Raw dark green leafy vegetables are superb sources of vitamins A, C, E, (the anti-cancer vitamins) and K, as well as possessing respectable quantities of the B complex. Vitamin C is particularly difficult to obtain in adequate quantities in winter months, making the consumption of salads at that time even more valuable. In addition, one’s susceptibility to colds and infection increases when supplies of C and A are diminished. An excellent supplementary source of fresh salad makings during the winter months are sprouted seeds (alfalfa, broccoli, etc). See a previous handout on sprouting seeds.
Often, a simple salad can be both elegant and delicious especially if made with fresh ingredients. Darker greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, etc, are especially rich. Darker leaved lettuce such as romaine, Bibb, and leaf lettuce are far superior to iceberg lettuce which is nutritionally relatively poor. Garlic is a mainstay for many salads. If you wish to add variety to your salad, you might add one or two of the following: red bell pepper, grated carrots, grated apples, parsley, onion, grated or cubed cheese, or even anchovies. However, combining too many different ingredients can detract from its enjoyment.

A salad is “dressed” with oil and an acid, usually lemon juice or vinegar. Important to proper dressing of a salad is to remember to use relatively dry makings so that the oil will stick to the leaves. After the greens are properly coated with oil, then add the acid, usually in the proportion of 1:2 or 1:3 parts acid to oil. Do not add the acid until shortly before serving since the acid will draw out the liquid from the greens by osmosis, resulting in a wilted salad.

For four salad eaters:
1 medium-large clove garlic minced
1 cup. coarsely chopped, deveined kale, spinach, and/or dark green lettuce.
1 cup fresh alfalfa sprouts
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
2 carrots grated
1/2 small onion thinly sliced
4 Tbl virgin olive oil (other oils can be used, but the flavor may lack richness)
1 1/2 Tbl fresh lemon juice (2 Tbl wine vinegar or apple vinegar will do.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Rub bowl with garlic, crushing pieces against side of bowl.
2. Add dry greens, distributing the sprouts.
3. Gently distribute carrots throughout salad (do not mash). Add onion, toss gently.
4. Drizzle oil over, toss to completely coat. At this point, the salad can wait several hours in the refrigerator for the last steps.
5. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss to disperse. Serve as first course for optimum pleasure and digestion.

Some people may miss the sugar found in prepared salad dressings. In that case, you may wish to add additional grated carrots or apples. For a hearty salad, small cheese cubes, ham cubes, bacon, toasted sunflower seeds or other addition can be considered. More elegant salads have relatively few ingredients however. Bon Apetito!

See also: Sprouts, Ester Munroe, Steven Greene Pr., Brattleburo, VT. (1974)

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