Thursday, March 5, 2009

California Salad

I love remembering cooking fads, and I've been thinking about all of the salad fads that have come and gone. Let's take a journey.

In the 40's there were aspic salads, as in tomato and shrimp aspic. I'm glad I wasn't alive in the 40's. I also missed the heyday of molded Jell-O salads, ambrosia, and wooden salad bowls.

In the 70's it seemed every macaroni salad had those little salty shrimp, celery, olives, and loads of mayo. Don't forget the Seven Layer salad. If you showed up with one of those bad boys in a glass trifle bowl, you were a hit (well, until someone got a lump of the mayo layer). That was also about the time fruit salads started containing things besides fruit, like colored marshmallows, red jell-o powder, nuts, and cottage cheese.
In the 80's they started doing that spinach salad with bacon, mushrooms, and strawberries. So cutting edge! Then there was the Frito Salad, which made its appearance at more than a few church functions. Don't forget the ubiquitous chicken caesar salad, henceforth to remain on every menu in America for the next 20 years. Then it was Chinese chicken salad, broccoli/raisin salad, and 1000's of iterations of pasta salad. I will not discuss Suddenly Salad.

Now salad is out of control. Everything is a salad. Snickers salad, anyone? Did a six-year-old invent that one? Tasty it is; a salad it ain't. Roasted beets and goat cheese (so 2004), herbs and microgreens, berries and jicama. Ever been to a restaurant and say demurely, "oh, I'll just have a salad", and they cart out something that would feed a family of eight?

I don't have much to say about this salad, except that it's delicious, fresh, and perfect in the winter. Crisp romaine and red onions, creamy avocado, and fresh citrus in a sweet and tangy dressing. Make it while grapefruits are still 4/$1.

California Salad
For the salad:
2-3 hearts of romaine, washed and chopped
1/2 lg. red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 avocados
2-3 oranges, cut into supremes
1-2 pink grapefruits, cut into supremes

These proportions are rather loose, so just use as much as you want of whatever you want. I like to go heavy on the avocado and citrus, but you do want you like. I also like to scoop out the flesh of the avocado with a spoon so it makes rounded pieces rather than cut-up shapes. How to make citrus supremes. (That is not me.)

For the dressing:
1/3 to 1/2 c. sugar (to taste)
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. paprika (not smoked)
pinch of cayenne (to taste)
3/4 c. salad oil
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. grated onion
salt and pepper to taste

Pour everything in food pro or use and immersion blender in a tall glass jar (I use a wide-mouth canning jar). Make sure you taste the dressing and adjust the sweetness and acidity to your liking. Dress the salad immediately before serving. You'll likely have some leftover dressing to save.


Alison said...

My mom’s macaroni and shrimp salad is still one of my favorite salads. She always will try to change it with the times to spice it up, but I like it plain and simple with just the macaroni, shrimp, and a little dressing. YUMMY! Maybe I’m just stuck in the 70’s when life’s biggest worry was what my mom was making for dinner.

amanda said...

mmmm. that sounds so good. i wish i trusted the lettuce here. maybe i could wash it with a bit of bleach water. food preparation is so much more work without good tap water.

and jonathan doesn't like salads (because of the dressings). bummer.

amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amanda said...

oh and if you didn't know, my wedding pics are up on my photographer's website. There are a couple cute ones of your family.

Go to our name, password is our maiden name, if it asks for an email you can put anything in. your family pics are under the "Reception" group.