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The Hospitality Guru: (cooking) Back to Basics - Prepare Salads

Updated on October 12, 2015



Salads can be among the most colourful, flavourful nutritious and eye-appealing items on the menu. A salad can be served as a meal in itself, or as an accompaniment to other dishes.


By strict definition: salads consist of herbs and edible plants, often combined with a dressing, served cold and eaten raw. Today the term “salad” is used much more broadly. Salads include a vast array of cooked and uncooked foods, mostly served cold, but sometimes warm, usually with dressings and garnishes. Though salads are frequently based on leafy greens, they can also include a wide range of other vegetables, fruits, meats, offal, seafood, eggs, pasta and cheese.


Salads can be offered in every food service situation – breakfast, lunch, dinner & supper. On the menu they may appear as an entrée, an accompaniment, a main course or a dessert.

Composition of Salads

Salads usually consist of four parts:

Base: Nearly always some form of salad greens

Body: The ingredients that constitute the main part of the salad.

Dressing: Used to blend the salad ingredients together, to add flavour, and to serve as a lubricant.

Garnish: Adds colour, texture and flavour. Should always complement the other ingredients in the salad.

Classification of Salads

Salads can be classified into two main categories, simple salads and mixed salads.

A simple salad consists of one type of ingredient, combined with or served with dressing. 

Two examples of simple salads with suitable dressing are: 

  • Iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing
  • Tomato salad with Vinaigrette dressing.

A mixed salad consists of more than one type of ingredient, usually mixed together and combined with a suitable dressing.  Two examples of mixed salads are:

·      Waldorf salad – a combination of celery, apples and walnuts, mixed and combined with a mayonnaise.

·      Greek salad – a combination of fetta cheese, olives, cucumber, onions and tomatoes mixed with a garlic dressing.

Salad Distinctions

Some distinctions can be made within the mixed salad.

  • A mixed salad, which is combined with mayonnaise is sometimes referred to as compound salad.  A waldorf salad is an example of this type.
  • A mixed salad where the ingredients haven’t been mixed but separately arranged is sometimes referred to as composed salad.  A neatly arranged seafood salad with an avocado fanned out beside it would be a composed salad.
  • A mixed salad where the body and the dressing are served warm is referred to as a warm salad.  A warm seafood salad, where the seafood is gently sautéed or poached and swerved with a warm dressing, is a good example.


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      Dionne Baldwin 6 years ago

      I LOVE basics. I've been cooking and baking since I was ten years old and it surprises me how little I know about basics. I appreciate this information and I really enjoy a cool, fresh salad any time of the year. My favorite is probably a caprese. Yum!