Lettuce Talk Salads

May is National Salad Month. I know, not everyone loves their veggies, but historically speaking, “salad” can mean a lot of things. From dressed lettuce to frozen cheese and fruit, there are a ton (probably literal and figurative) of recipes in between, some more traditional than others. I’m currently working my way through a generous donation of 27 boxes of culinary materials–the first cart load of items is parked outside my office to prepare for cataloging and there are a range of titles relating to salads. This #foodfriday, here are a few ideas for the classic and the experimental salad fan.

First up, some fruit salads, courtesy of the Southern Living Cookbook Salads including Appetizers (1968). I was super-excited to catch the pages of recipes below because they include one from Rural Retreat, Virginia! Though I’m still working out the flavor profile of that fruit, greens, and cheese combo…

Next up, some more substantial meat-filled salads from The Salads Cookbook (1979), also from Southern Living. Since the front cover didn’t have a title (but does have a lovely caesar!), I included the title page below. Also, some rather interesting chicken options. Chicken and bananas? Pineapple & chicken in tomatoes? Well, at least I could totally get on board with all the avocado options!

Although perhaps I should have put this one first (because of the back cover image), the idea of picnic salads fit in better here, after the substantial/heartier options. So, this is the Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Salad Recipes (1978). The front cover features a “bowl” salad, a salad with its own edible bowl, and something more, well, freestanding. (Yes, there’s gelatin ahead.) The second page include some great picnic options, as well as advice on transporting salads for your outings. The back cover is also a handy guide to lettuces!

And, since we all know I can’t leave gelatin alone, here’s a page from The Knox Gelatine Cookbook (1977). It seems they took a classic element, Green Goddess Dressing, and made it into something gelatinous. Also, I’m not at all surprised to see a gelatin twist on a classic garden salad. I’m sure it’s been done before, complete with lettuce, though this option seems to skip that main ingredient…

None of these books are cataloged yet, but once they are, you can visit us in Special Collections to give them a look. (Actually, if you’re really interested and you come by fast enough, you might still catch them before we send them off for cataloging!) In the meantime, we have PLENTY of other salad books in the collection. Books with leaves (pun intended, of course) full of recipes, just waiting to be discovered.

The lesson for today is that salads come in many forms, some more traditional, others more…inventive. It’s also a great reminder of how the idea of a salad has changed and, in this particular case, gives us a sense of the trends in the late 1960s 1970s. And maybe it even offers us a little encouragement. Even if chicken and bananas don’t seem like an obvious pairing, someone liked it enough to publish it. So next time you’re wondering if you should put two ingredients together in your salad bowl, take a chance. We’ve got your back.

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