So Dad came home from the war with an enduring passion for salad. Every night we had one – iceberg lettuce with orange Kraft French dressing, sometimes with sliced green olives. Sometimes we would fix leaf lettuce wilted under a dressing of hot bacon grease, but that’s as exotic as it got.
It wasn’t until many years later that I broadened my definition of salad to include different kinds of lettuce, different kinds of dressing, and different vegetable matter and garnishes.
We always make a vinaigrette dressing with olive oil, plus half vinegar and half lemon juice. A different kind of vinegar every night gives a little change, even when the lettuce is pretty much the same, coming as it does out of the same towel.
We try for variety in the greens as well. Belgian endive and radicchio come from the grocery. Ken plants spring and fall crops of spinach and arugula, and this month he's started seeds for mache, a variety we've not tried before.
We like the crunch of croutons, but find that the ones you buy in the salad aisle are too big and too aggressively seasoned, not to mention quite expensive. Instead, we buy stuffing mix, which yields small bits of crunch with a more pleasant taste. Additional ingredients that we like, but don’t use every night, include cucumbers, avocado, olives, artichoke hearts, jicama, cheese and pine nuts.
We fix large servings of salad for ourselves, served in our special big glass salad bowls, and must remember to fix less for company (unless the company is our sons, in which case we fix even more). It’s the pole star in our dinner repertoire, always there, always good, always nutritious.