Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1228

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Salads.—Although lettuce frequently forms the foundation of salads composed of raw materials, there are few vegetables and edible plants that may not be used for the purpose. The long list of those generally regarded as most appropriate includes artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, carrots, cauliflower, cresses, cucumbers, endive, French beans, lentils, lettuce, onions, potatoes, radishes, salsify, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts, and many other products. On the Continent, a variety of tempting salads are prepared from cold cooked vegetables, which in England are rarely utilized in this manner, but a typical French salad is composed entirely of one vegetable, for the cooks of that nation will on no account mix any two vegetables or salad plants. By these means, the characteristic delicate flavour of choice vegetables is preserved; hence the superiority of salads prepared by them. As compounding salads is regarded as an art that only a few specially gifted excel in, ordinary cooks cannot be expected to attain perfection in this respect, but careful attention to a few simple details should enable them to prepare at least a palatable dish. To ensure success, it is absolutely necessary that the plants and vegetables employed should be young, freshly gathered, and crisp. If stale and limp, they may be freshened by immersion in cold water for a time, otherwise it is better to simply wash them thoroughly. Probably the point upon which perfection largely depends is the more or less complete removal of moisture after washing. When a salad basket is not available, the materials should be well drained and shaken in a colander, and afterwards in a clean dry cloth held by the corners, and shaken lightly until the salad is dry. Lettuce should always be torn into shreds, not cut with a knife; and it is a good plan to pour the salad dressing into the bottom of the bowl, lay the vegetables upon it, and mix vigorously at the moment of serving. Salads afford considerable scope for the exercise of individual taste and inventive faculty, and whatever their composition, they should always look cool, inviting, and dainty.