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Carol Deppe: Why the Best Salads Don’t Need Salad Dressing

The modern paradigm for a salad is a bowl of a relatively limited number of relatively bland vegetables to which we add the flavor via salad dressing. Most perennial vegetables, fresh herbs, and wild greens have strong flavors. Many of these greens are unusually nutritious, and some are especially easy for home gardeners to grow. In addition, markets these days often also carry a good repertoire of herbs and greens with stronger flavors.

However, if we include substantial amounts of highly flavorful greens in a salad and dress it with a standard salad dressing, we end up with overwhelming instead of pleasing flavor. Many people respond by sticking to salads based mostly upon lettuce. The full-flavored greens just don’t fit into the mild-ingredients-plus-flavorful-dressing paradigm. I opt for biodiversity in the salad bowl, the diet, and the garden. What I eliminate is the salad dressing. I challenge the entire concept of salad dressing. Here’s my approach:

1. I use substantial amounts of full-flavored leaves in my salads. I can use lots more if I use small amounts of many of different types rather than a large amount of one of them. Onion greens, garlic greens, wild garlic, lovage, salad burnet, young horseradish leaves, sorrel, mustard greens, carrot tops, Alexanders Greens, young dandelion greens, and many others find their way into my salads.

2. I like milder salad ingredients too. I mix them with the stronger-flavored greens and herbs. By eliminating the salad dressing I make more room for strong-flavored greens as actual salad ingredients. I often use carrots or apples as part of my milder ingredients. Apples go great in salads (or sandwiches). (A little lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) will keep the apples from browning.) 3. I put all the smaller amounts of various herbs in a big leaf of something (kale, horseradish leaf, lettuce, cabbage), roll the smaller bits up in the leaf, and slice the roll very fine. This allows me to cut all the strongest-flavored greens very fine with little effort. 4. I don’t use a generic mixed dressing, home-made or commercial. Instead I taste the combination of greens and vegetables I have in the bowl that day and season to taste with something sour such as lemon or vinegar (if there are no sour ingredients), some oil (if there are no oily ingredients), water (if needed), and a little salt. I may use some dried herbs too. If so, they are chosen to complement the specific salad. 5. I often include oily ingredients in the salad (sliced hard-cooked eggs, sunflower seeds, slivered hazelnuts) instead of using store-bought, extracted oil. (I have a flock of laying ducks. A few laying hens or ducks fit into many backyards and wonderfully complement gardening.) Sometimes I blend nuts or sunflower seeds in water and use that in the salad instead of oil or whole or slivered nuts or seeds. Sometimes I mash a hard-cooked egg yolk in a little water to give a creamy texture and use that in the salad, with the egg white pieces as one of the ingredients. Continue reading this article on Alternet. Learn more about Carol Deppe’s new book, The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, in our bookstore.


Recipe: How to Make the Perfect Pancake

When most people think pancakes, they think breakfast. But for Amy Halloran, breakfast is only the start.Halloran, author of The New Bread Basket, is a self-described pancake connoisseur. From a young age, she was entranced by the magic of bubbly batter rising to fluffy cakes on the griddle. Over time, her love of pancakes developed […] Read More..

5 Common Invasive Species and How to Manage Them

Last week, we asked authors Tao Orion and Katrina Blair to share alternative approaches to managing five different plant species commonly held to be “invasive.” St. John’s Wort, Garlic Mustard, Thistle, Oxeye Daisy, and Kudzu are often dismissed as annoyances at best and the target of aggressive eradication with harmful chemicals at worst. Orion and […] Read More..

Uncovering the Many Uses for Abundant Kudzu

As Invasive Species Week comes to a close, Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species, and Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds,  share alternative approaches to understanding and managing Kudzu. Take a look through our final profile and check out any you might have missed along the way: Oxeye […] Read More..

Oxeye Daisy: A Plant for the Pollinators

As Invasive Species Week continues, Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species, and Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, are sharing alternative approaches to managing and using plants considered to be “invasive.” Take a look through today’s profile on Oxeye Daisy and check out tips for working with Garlic […] Read More..

How to Manage Invasive Thistle and Improve Your Soil

As Invasive Species Week continues, Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species, and Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, are sharing alternative approaches to managing and using plants considered to be “invasive.” Take a look through today’s profile on two variations of Thistle and check out tips for working […] Read More..