Salad Days

“Salad days” is a Shakespearean idiomatic expression meaning a youthful time, accompanied by the inexperience, enthusiasm, idealism, innocence, or indiscretion that one associates with a young person. A more modern use, especially in the United States, refers to a heyday, a period when somebody was at the peak of their abilities—not necessarily in that person’s youth.” -Wikipedia

Long before contemporary diet wars, a fellow named Maximilian De Loup wrote “The American Salad Book,” a classic described as “The most complete and useful collection of salad recipes ever brought together.”

Back in 1899, in the salad heydays, there were no diet wars, no “Paleo” “Vegan” “Keto” or “Vegetarian” fanatics shouting at each other on Twitter. (Cool to be any one of these, not so cool to be shouting at each other on Twitter!)

Folks ate food, including plants, animals, and seafood. Nobody was casting aspersions on each other’s diets – people just ate real food, and there were plenty of salads on the menu. Salad was a demilitarized zone!

“To learn to serve a salad is a most important qualification for one would master the art of entertaining.” 

The “proficient salad mixer” was extolled to not attempt too much at first: practice on plain salads and dressings before elaborating them: study the tastes of your guests as well as the mixing of condiments.” Here, we see a salad ethic that abhors the idea of inflicting your dietary experiments or proclivities on others… to the contrary, try to understand and appease the preferences of your guests.

In this new (old) series, we will mine the glorious text of “The American Salad Book,” a delightful treasure of bygone salad days and rejoice in a diversity of salads that ought to make all the diet tribes happy. 

EatRx does not adhere to any particular dietary dogma or approach, other than always emphasizing “real food”. 

Let’s start with “Salad Dressings and Sauces”

Much has been written by salad masters on the importance of giving the utmost care and attention to the dressing of salads, for on this depends the success of the whole. The kind of dressings are numerous, almost innumerable, but the really good ones are indeed few. The French or plain dressing and the mayonnaise are in almost universal use throughout the civilized world and, with slight variations, are more generally approved than any other kind. Indeed, were they always to be had, directions for others would be nearly superfluous, but often good materials cannot be obtained and although good judges insist upon a liberal quantity of oil being used there are many people who will eat nothing which olive oil enters. It is said that a true salad artist never measures anything so nicely does he adapt the seasoning to the conditions and to the requirements of his guests. This is all very well where we have knowledge and experience, but with new things and new people a guide is necessary. In all directions given in this book, such quantities and proportions are used as experience has shown meet the average taste: however, nothing is absolute for the strength of the several condiments vary greatly, and, of course, a salad of salty materials will require less of that condiment in the dressing, and one of peppergrass, or other strong herbs, less pepper.

Much has been written about mayonnaise and we are told that properly it includes the whole preparation, meat, herbs, and dressing, but the term as used in the United States has been so long and universally applied to dressing alone that it would be misleading to attempt a change. Still, it should be understood, when other things than egg, oil, vinegar or lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mustard are added it is not a mayonnaise dressing but should be given another name. A perfect mayonnaise is a triumph of art: with good materials it is easily made but when the materials are poor, the dressing is, to put it mildly, indifferent.

The process of dropping oil from a bottle, as we get in this country, may be facilitated by cutting two grooves in the cork on opposite sides, one for the oil to run out of and the other to admit the air.

It is held by many salad makers that a small quantity of sugar, often little more than a “pinch,” should be added to all salad dressings for the purpose of bringing together the other seasonings in a more perfect affinity. It will do no harm if enough is not put in to give the dressing a sweet taste, but the moments this occurs the salad is spoiled, unless a sweet salad is wanted.

“Chapon,” for Green Salads. Cut from a loaf of bread a thin crust about one inch by two, sprinkle it with salt and rub with a clove of garlic crushed: toss the bread into the bottom of the salad bowl, before the salad is put in, and let remain in the salad during the process of mixing: remove before serving the salad.


Have all the materials ready, clean and cold, when about to begin. Do the mixing in a cool place and if the weather is hot set the bowl on ice before or during the mixing. A shallow bowl or soup plate is most convenient for beating. Use a silver or wooden fork or smooth wooden spoon. Have the yolks of two fresh raw eggs and two hard boiled ones in a cool bowl, drop on a little oil and rub to a cream: then add a teaspoonful of made English mustard (made by mixing ground mustard with warm water) two teaspoonfuls of dry fine salt and a sprinkle of Cayenne pepper: then drop in oil, drop by drop, stirring and beating hard all the time until the mixture is thick and solid enough to keep its shape and have a glassy look. It will require from eight tablespoonfuls to half a pint of oil, according to size of eggs and quality of materials. Thin the mixture by dropping in vinegar until the dressing is of proper consistency: about two tablespoonfuls  of vinegar will be required. A few drops of lemon juice may be added but avoid using too much or it will give the dressing an acidity very unpleasant. Keep the dressing in a cold place until wanted. Just before using, the whites of the raw eggs are usually beaten to a stiff froth and then beaten into the dressing. If, when partly made, it “breaks” or curdles, put in a cool place and when ready begin over again with more egg and instead of using oil drop the curdled dressing into the bowl until it is used. This dressing is always acceptable for any of the numerous green, meat or fish salads where mayonnaise is wanted, but is subject to countless variations according to taste or fancy. When more eggs are used less oil is required, and vice versa. If a very mild dressing should be wanted, omit the mustard and pepper. This is the kind usually preferred for fresh fruit salads. For fruit salads a spoonful of fine sugar can be substituted for the mustard. For sweet fruit it can be made more acid and for acid fruit less so. Cream, if thick and fresh, can sometimes be used to advantage with less oil, especially for fruit and fresh vegetables. Keep in a separate dish and do not mix with other things until just before eating. The process of mixing should take from ten to fifteen minutes. When wanted to coat meats or fish use aspic jelly in place of raw eggs, warming it sufficient to melt and then putting the coated dish in an ice chest This is sometimes called a “jelly mayonnaise.”

White Mayonnaise is made by using less egg yolk and more lemon juice in place of vinegar, the acid of the lemon always tending to whiten the eggs. The addition of the beaten white of egg and cream also tend to make it white. If a golden yellow color is wished all these ingredients should be omitted.

Green Mayonnaise is prepared by using a little spinach juice in plain mayonnaise, or the juice of any fresh salad herbs, tarragon, bumet, or chives may be used if desired. The prepared colorings that may be bought of grocers are cheap and convenient and should not be harmful. Very soft mashed green peas are used to give color and consistency when the dressing is used to cover fish.

Red Mayonnaise is made by adding some of the prepared coloring, cooked beet juice or highly colored fruit juice to plain mayonnaise. For fish salads, pound the coral of lobster, mix with a little oil and when smooth add to the mayonnaise.

Horseradish Mayonnaise is made by adding about three tablespoonfuls of fresh grated horseradish to the given amount of plain mayonnaise, or, if prepared horseradish is used, take the same amount and use the vinegar in which it is packed instead of plain vinegar. This is a good relish on cold beef and fish salads.

English Salad Sauce, so called, is mayonnaise with eggs in the proportion of two hard boiled to one raw yolk, and about two-thirds as much thick sweet cream as oil, the whole being well beaten together for twenty minutes or more and then cooled in the ice chest.

Mayonnaise Tartare is simply the addition of a little chopped onions or of onion juice, chopped cucumber pickles or capers and parsley, chives, chopped olives or any green herb the flavor of which is desired.


The following sauces are, without exception, easily made and of such variety that it is possible to have a desirable change with nearly every salad made. The variety will be most welcome to those whose sole dependence has been the French and Mayonnaise dressings.

Remoulade Sauce is made the same as mayonnaise sauce without the raw eggs, the yolks of hard boiled eggs alone being used. This is designed for the convenience of those to whom raw Eggs are objectionable.

Vinaigrette Sauce. Mix together one tablespoonful of vinegar, three of oil, one teaspoonful each of chopped parsley, capers and scraped or grated onion. Season with one salt spoonful of salt and pepper or a few drops of Tabasco sauce.

Vinaigrette Sauce with Egg. Mash the yolk of a hard boiled egg with three tablespoonfuls of oil, two of vinegar, a finely chopped shallot, one teaspoonful of chopped chives or half a teaspoonful of onion juice, as preferred, a salt- spoonful of salt and half as much pepper, Cayenne pepper preferred.

Bacon Sauce. Made by frying thin slices of smoked bacon or ham fat and after straining, add one-third vinegar to two-thirds bacon oil. It may be thickened by adding a little flour mixed with cold water and then cooking. This is greatly relished on green salads, by many people, and is often available in camp or other places where olive oil is not to be had.

Boiled Salad Dressing. This is best made with a double boiler, or bain marie or in a small kettle in a larger one of boiling water. The yolks and whites of three eggs are beaten separately and stirred in the boiler with one cup of cream or rich milk, one-quarter teacup of vinegar, one teaspoonful each of mustard and pepper. Cook slowly and when thick stir in two teaspoonfuls of salt If too thick, thin with more cream, melted butter or oil. Butter or oil can be used instead of cream using more milk to keep it from being too hard. Add a good teaspoonful of sugar if it is relished. Stir constantly when boiling and when cooling to make it smooth.

Boiled Salad Dressing No. 2. Yolks of eight eggs, one cup of cream, (if milk is used put in a little butter) one pint of vinegar, one teaspoonful of sugar. Put in a double boiler or bowl in boiling water and cook to a cream but not until it is solid. Take from the fire and add one tablespoonful of salt, one of black pepper and one of mustard, well mixed and rubbed together with oil until all the lumps are dissolved. More oil may be added to thin the dressing if the taste is desired.

Sour Cream Salad Dressing. To a cupful of thick cream, sour but not too old, add a teaspoonful of salt, the juice of half a lemon, two teaspoonfuls of vinegar, a good sprinkling of Cayenne, or if a mild pepper is preferred use paprika in larger quantities, and a teaspoonful of sugar. Beat all together thoroughly. This is relished on salads of cold boiled vegetables and on tomatoes.

Albert Dressing. Four tablespoonfuls of oil are well mixed with one each of wine and vinegar. A teaspoonful of salt and a little paprika or other mild red pepper is added.

Tomato Dressing. Put in a frying pan two tablespoonfuls of butter, an onion of medium size sliced thin, and a small green pepper of the strong variety: a little Cayenne may be used if the green pepper is not available. Fry until highly colored, add about two cupfuls of tomatoes, cook and stir until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp. Strain the mixture, return to the frying pan and thicken with an even teaspoonful of flour stirred in cold water. Let it cook slowly for nearly half an hour, seasoning with salt and a little clove or any other spice preferred. If too thick, thin with a little oil or hot water. To be eaten on any green salad with cold meats.

Sardine Dressing. Take two sardines free from bones and skin, mash fine with one raw egg, one tablespoonful of oil, two of vinegar, one teaspoonful of made mustard, one of salt and one-quarter teaspoonful of pepper. Stir well together and add a small quantity of chopped parsley. Serve with fish salads or meat.

Bast Indian Salad Dressing. The yolks of two hard boiled eggs rubbed smooth with eight tablespoonfuls of oil, a teaspoonful of curry powder and two tablespoonful of Tarragon vinegar.

Salmi Sauce. Take half a carrot of medium size and cut into small pieces: half an onion, two bay leaves, a sprig of thyme and six whole pepper corns. Put these into a sauce pan with an ounce of butter and cook briskly for about five minutes or until all are of a golden yellow color. Chop the trimmings from the bird used and add to contents of the sauce pan, together with half a wine glass of sherry, half a cupful of mushroom liquor, the juice of one lemon, a saltspoonful of salt, half as much pepper and a little nutmeg. Let all cook together for twenty minutes and then strain for use.

Alii|ond Salad Dressing. For ripe peaches, sliced bananas, pears, fresh figs or any kind of ripe fruit the following dressing will be found most excellent. To every dozen sweet almonds allow four bitter ones. Blanch and remove the brown skins, then soak them in cold water for two hours and pound in a marble or a porcelain lined mortar, adding a little salt, a slight sprinkling of Cayenne pepper and a little lemon juice. When all are ground fine, thin with sherry wine to the consistency of cream. Just before using cold fresh cream can be stirred into it. If the fresh cream makes it too rich it may be omitted without detriment.

Lemon Dressing. This is a most healthful and refreshing dressing to serve on lettuce or any green salad, and is frequently more relished by children and convalescents than any other dressing. Squeeze the juice from a lemon and add as much cold water as juice, half a saltspoonful of salt and a teaspoonful of fine sugar.

Hollandaise Sauce. Especially good to use with fish salads when good oil is difficult to obtain. Rub half a cup of butter to a cream and add, slowly, the yolks of two eggs. Also add a saltspoonful of salt, a sprinkle of Cayenne pepper and the juice of one lemon. Pour in a half a cupful of boiling water and stand the bowl in a pan of boiling water or in the top of a tea kettle and stir until thick as cream.

Bearnaise Sauce. Beat the yolks of four eggs and add four tablespoonfuls of oil, one of hot water and one of vinegar. Tarragon or plain: one teaspoonful of salt and a sprinkling of Cayenne pepper. Boil in a double boiler or on a ketde until thick, adding the vinegar last It should be like firm mayonnaise. By adding chopped pickles, capers, or olives with a few drops of Tabasco sauce a good sauce Tartare can be made.

Mexican Salad Dressing. Crush fine in a stone or porcelain lined mortar a clove of garlic the size of a small pea and two small strong green peppers that have been boiled or roasted: add also three tomatoes of medium size that have been boiled and peeled. Grind all together thoroughly and pour over lettuce or cold boiled potatoes that have been dressed with salt, oil and vinegar.

Italian Salad Dressing. Rub an anchovy quite smooth with a tablespoonful of oil and a teaspoonful of made mustard. Add three or four more tablespoonfuls of oil, one of garlic vinegar, and one of common vinegar. Stir until creamy and serve in a dish separate from the salad.

Salad Dressing with Cheese. Rub four tablespoonfuls of oil into the yolks of two hard boiled eggs, then add a teaspoonful of grated Parmesan cheese, one of made mustard, one of Tarragon vinegar and a tablespoonful of cider vinegar. A spoonful of mushroom, walnut or other catsup can be added if the flavor is desired.

Ravigote Butter. Chop very fine, or pound in a mortar, equal parts of Tarragon, parsley and chervil seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Rub one tablespoonful of these mixed herbs into one-quarter pound of fresh butter and then put on ice to set When ready to use cut with slightly warmed cutter into pretty. shapes for garnishing.

Ravigote Sauce. Put the yolks of two raw eggs and one ounce of butter into a small sauce pan or hain marie and place over the fire where it is not too hot and stir until it begins to thicken: add an ounce more of butter and stir again until it makes a cream. Then add pounded herbs, of chives use half a teaspoonful or a teaspoonful each of burnet, chervil, tarragon, parsley and others to suit the taste. Celery, bay leaves, capers, mustard, cresses and anchovies are sometimes added. It is made without cooking by using the yolk of one raw egg, and oil instead of butter: beat to a cream and add finely minced or powdered herbs.

Cucumber Jelly. Peel and cut off the green ends of four large or five small cucumbers, cut into slices and stew in a quart of water with a small slice of onion, a little pepper and a small teaspoonful of salt When the cucumbers become soft, stir in half a box of gelatine that has been previously soaked in a cupful of water. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved and then strain through a fine sieve or strainer and put in moulds to harden. This is good with any fish salad, especially salmon. The fish can be flaked, put in the mould and hardened with the jelly. If served by itself sliced cucumbers are good in it It can be moulded in small egg cups or in individual moulds as preferred. This jelly is never more attractive than when surrounding a mound of pink salmon on a bed of fresh lettuce, the jelly broken and sparkling. French dressing should be used with it. Serve as cold as possible.

Tomato Jelly. One quart of tomatoes, one small onion sliced, a few sprigs of parsley, three or four cloves, salt and a sprinkling of Cayenne, or a small hot pepper from the garden, are used in making this jelly. Stew the mixture until the tomatoes are soft, strain and add half a box of gelatine that has been soaked in a cup of water. There should be a little more than a pint of the liquid. Use as a garnish for meat or green salads. A large mould of the jelly on a bed of lettuce surrounded by mayonnaise is very attractive. Individual moulds on separate plates are convenient to serve with a large company. Use mayonnaise dressing with this jelly. 

Mariarinade. When meat or fish is dry and tasteless it is improved by putting in a marinade or sauce to stand for a time, one or two hours usually being sufficient A plain marinade is made by using one part oil to three parts vinegar, with pepper and salt to taste. Other flavors, sweet herbs, spices, etc., can be given by bruising in a little oil and letting them stand before mixing with the rest The use of marinade is usually carried to excess, the quantity of vinegar poured on destroying all other flavors. Use only enough to season the meat and only what will be absorbed by the meat

Cutting Meats for Salads. Meat of all kinds for use in salads should be cut into uniform small slices or cubes as far as possible. If cut into pieces do not have them too small : a half inch is about right If smaller, or if chopped it stiggest hash, becomes wet and soggy with the dressing and is always unpleasant to the taste. When meat or fish of different kinds are put in the same salad, however, they need not be cut in equal sizes.

French or Plain Salad Dressing. Take three tablespoonfuls of sweet oil, one of vinegary one saltspoonful of salt, one-half saltspoonful of pepper, and one-quarter of a teaspoonful of onion juice. Mix well and quickly and throw over the salad. This is the most popular of all salad dressings and the proportions are those generally approved, but are, of course, subject to many variations some of which follow.

Variations. When onion flavor is objectionable it can be omitted but it gives a zest no other condiment affords. It should be used only in small quantities, never enough in a dressing to overpower the other seasonings. Those who are exceedingly fond of it should have onion salads, than which none are more healthful and invigorating. When introduced judiciously into a salad, onions are usually relished even by the most strenuous objectors to the vegetable who will not notice it in the salad when perfectly blended with the other ingredients and without strong odor. A few drops of juice, squeezed out with a porcelain lined lemon squeezer and mixed with the oil is the preferred way of introducing it, but if the onion juice cannot be readily used, scrape a little of the raw onion and mix with a part of the oil, let it stand for fifteen minutes or longer then press the oil out and mix with the dressing.

When garlic is used, rub a crushed clove of it on the bottom of the bowl in which the dressing is mixed, or, if mixed in the French manner by working the oil over the lettuce first, rub the garlic on a small piece of stale bread, called in France the “chapon, ” and toss it about in the bowl with the salad, rubbing some salt over it after the garlic is used.

When the slight flavor of strong herbs is relished in a salad, a small quantity of them can be crushed in a stone or porcelain mortar and then macerated or soaked in a little oil, which may be pressed out with a thin spoon and added to the dressing. Summer savory or thyme can thus be used in a plain salad to accompany roasted or broiled poultry. Sweet marjoram or sage is used with green geese or ducks, mint with lamb or venison and sweet basil with fish or clams. Orange flowers, or the tender buds and leaves, may be used. Basil, bumet, caraway, balm, chervil or any other herbs may be used in place of those mentioned, taste being the guide in all cases.

English Salad Dressing is made by the addition of a teaspoonful of made mustard to the given quantity of French dressing. 

More excerpts to come from Maximilian De Loup’s The American Salad Book, “The most complete and useful collection of salad recipes ever brought together.”

This goldmine of salads was mined by Wolfram Alderson, Advisor to EatRx and CEO of the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation.

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