In our kitchen, salads are superstars. In addition to side dish salads, which we eat practically every day, we treat ourselves to carefully put-together main dish salads whenever we get the chance. Nothing makes us happier than buying ingredients to make salads and combining them with leftovers. We love going to restaurants and cafeterias that specialize in salad bars. In addition to the usual assortment of salady ingredients, our favorite places have prepared dishes, like marinated cucumbers and white beans in spicy tomato sauce, we can pile on our plates.
As salad lovers, we weren’t surprised to read that they were introduced to America by European colonists who used greens and herbs from their kitchen gardens for salad making. After the Civil War, cooks became more creative and filled their salads with other vegetables, such as tomatoes and potatoes. High rollers, who ate salads at afternoon teas and late night suppers, feasted on more substantial turkey and lobster salads.
For cooks who were new to the salad scene, help came in 1883, when Emma Ewing’s Salad and Salad Making, the first American cookbook devoted to the subject was published. Ewing explained how to make them and included recipes for fruit, vegetable, fish, meat and mixed salads. We’re not sure where Corn and Tomato Salad with Lemon Dressing would fit in Ewing’s collection, but we know when local tomatoes are at their peak and fresh corn is in season, we dig out the recipe and start chopping.
By Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.