Salad is often looked at as what we eat before a meal, or perhaps as a main course when weâ€™re trying to be healthy. Patricia Wells, a journalist, author and cooking teacher based in France, asks us to reconsider the salad as a viable entree in her new book, Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season (William Morrow/Harper Collins). By including recipes for dishes often served with salad, such as soups, eggs, breads, and extras like hummus and marinated olives, Wells makes a case for putting salad in the spotlight of your next meal.
The personal anecdotes accompanying the recipes make you want to catch a flight to Provence and take one of Wellsâ€™ cooking classes, and gorgeous photos plus suggestions for wine pairings really bring the dishes to life. A few standouts:
â€¢ Provence on a Plate: Eggplant, tomatoes, goat cheese, and tapenade
â€¢ Cilantro-Flecked Heirloom Tomato Soup
â€¢ Zucchini Blossom Frittata with Goat Cheese and Mint
â€¢ Summer Salad: Green beans, toasted nuts, and cured olives
â€¢ Lobster Salad with Green Beans, Apple, and Avocado
â€¢ Sardines Tartines with Herb Spread, Tomatoes, and Mixed Greens
â€¢ Ginger and Sesame Chicken Salad with Glass Noodles
Just one word of caution: reading about Wellsâ€™ dining experiences, complete with Parisian haunts and her Provencal herb garden, may cause life envy.
Though this is a book about salad, one thing worth noting is the frequent use of meat and cheese. While vegetarians may feel slightly put off, others may consider the copiousness of bacon within these pages a very, very good thing. One other thing to be aware ofâ€”a few of the recipes call for equipment most home cooks may not have, such as a deep fryer. While itâ€™s easy enough to go online for suggestions on makeshift alternatives, itâ€™s probably better to figure that out before itâ€™s time to submerge the falafel in hot oil.
In general, though, the recipes are straightforward and engaging. Whether youâ€™re pulling greens from your backyard garden or foraging for goat cheese at your local Trader Joeâ€™s, youâ€™ll be sure to find something that speaks to you in Salad as a Meal.