BOOKS for COOKS: Beef-Mushroom Salad

By MaryAnn Miano

A salad is one of the most versatile courses in a healthy meal plan. It can be made from any combination of foods and can double as a main meal. Desserts are great with molded salads or salads made with fruits or cheese – a light and satisfying finale for any meal. Catherine Henning’s cookbook collection at the Colts Neck Library contains a few excellent salad recipe books, such as The Woman’s Day Book of Salads, written by Carol Truax.

Salads are the perfect food for reaching the goal of good nutrition with ease of preparation, and have long been a way to meet weight loss goals. In this book, the author makes great suggestions for salad chefs wishing to make selections of fruits and vegetables for a more interesting dish. She teaches you how to select the best produce, and there is a chapter on preparing the produce for the salad, knowing when to shred, dice, chop, or cut.

Ms. Truax also devotes chapters teaching how to choose the right colors for your salad (try reds such as apple, beets, cranberry, or tomato, or yellows such as egg yolks, grapefruit, and pineapple).  You can add appealing “crunchies” (sunflower seeds, nuts, dried fruit, bite-size pieces of firm cheese) to play up the feel of the chewiness of the greens. Adding texture to a salad is as important as taste. For example, the author suggests contrasts such as crisp bacon with sliced avocado, grapefruit sections or beets on Belgian endive, yogurt on raw spinach, and kidney beans on shredded iceberg lettuce, to name a few.

This book has it covered on the list of herbs and spices that go well in salads, and there is even a handy calorie chart to help calculate the calorie content of your final hearty creation. Don’t overwhelm a delicate salad with lots of pungent caraway seeds, scallions, and radishes. The right touch will help you get the quantities correct. Presentation of the salad is important, too! Fruit salads placed in a clear crystal or glass bowl show off the beautiful colors. Dessert salad bowls can be made by scooping the flesh out of melon, oranges, or pineapple halves and using the shells.

The Woman’s Day Book of Salads is chock full of ideas that will always keep your salad fascinating!

BEEF-MUSHROOM SALAD

½ cup oil

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ cup minced parsley

2 green onions, minced

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ pound mushrooms, sliced thin

2 cups thin slices cooked steak, roast beef, or beef pot roast

4 cups torn salad greens

In a salad bowl, blend oil, vinegar, soy sauce, parsley, onions, salt, and pepper. Add mushrooms and meat and toss to coat; marinate at room temperature at least ½ hour. Just before serving, add greens and toss. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Recipe from The Woman’s Day Book of Salads, page 115, By Carol Truax, Publisher: E.P. Dutton. 1980.