With Americans love for pasta it was only a matter of time before pasta salad emerged first appearing as simple macaroni salad giving way to more sophisticated versions and add-ins. European immigrants brought their potato salad recipes to America both cold and hot which utilized the inexpensive and easy-to-grow potato as a hearty base. Europe was serving up potato salad as early as the 1600s usually mixed with vinegar oil and bacon the forerunner of German potato salad served hot. Warmer climates enjoyed potatoes cold with cream and vegetables.The French no slouches in the cuisine department took it one step further adding mayonnaise herbs and mustard Dijon of course. (No self-respecting Frenchman would even think of using yellow mustard as Americans do.) Since the 1970s when salad bars became de rigueur the lowly salad has taken center stage no longer an afterthought alongside a main course. Supermarkets feature prepackaged lettuce and salad fixings boxed pasta salad mix and rows of greens and colorful vegetables all waiting to be dressed up.
If you can t really eat everything at once they why try to serve it at once non? Not all courses are complicated; neither are all meals. One type of food the French like to serve separately is la salade. Salade has a wide and vague meaning in French. I suppose it does in English too. Sure you might think a tossed salad is "salad" with tomato wedges cucumber rounds lettuce and maybe a few croutons but then if that s considered salad the how do we call potato salad a salad if most of us don t even put any of those aforementioned ingredients in our potato salad? And what about pasta salad? Or cranberry salad? My encounters with cranberry salad have cranberry jello/gelatin whipped cream and marshmallows? Now how can that be called salad? Egg salad tuna salad and crab or shrimp salad might be served on lettuce a.k.a. la salade but if you put any of these salads between two slices of bread wouldn t you call them Egg salad sandwich? Tuna salad sandwich? I would.
Of course any lettuce plant will reach a point where its leaves taste very bitter and by mid August much of the lettuce for his salads comes from the local supermarket - but he still gets dozens of other ingredients from the garden. Here are some of those other greens in Grandpa Green s garden that find their way into his delicious salads. Radicchio provides a nice burgundy red color. Be careful to use sparingly in a salad as radicchio is naturally bitter and remove the thick white stem part of each leaf. Arugula is very easy to grow from seed and you can start by harvesting the extra seedlings for salad while thinning out the seedlings. Pick individual leaves as the plants grow and you can get two or three months worth of arugula flavor from each plant. I find arugula one of the most interesting flavors in a salad.