Book Review: Salads (Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library)

Salads (Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library), with recipes by Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti

Those who know me well and have seen me eat will know that I am quite fond of eating salads, and I have certain consistent tastes and expansive tastes about how I like my salads [1].  There are some people who scoff at salads as mere rabbit food and think them unworthy of eating in large quantities, but as someone who greatly appreciates salads and someone who actually requested a book about salads from a publisher that will hopefully be arriving soon, I thought it worthwhile to read at least a few other salad books as companion volumes so that my love of salads might have its proper place and so that I may see what kind of recipes are made with salads by those who like me are fond of them and enjoy eating them with a good degree of regularity and enjoyment.  Does this book about salads stack up to the demands of someone with some pretty serious dietary limitations but with a great love of fruits and vegetables and someone whose salads can be immensely colorful and even a bit artistic?  Read and see.

The contents of this short book, only a little over 100 pages, are divided into six sections.  The first and last section are bookends with supplemental material–the opening section is divided into an introduction that seeks to legitimize the creation of more gourmet salads, some basic (and not so basic) salad-making equipment, some salad basics, and recipes for home-made vinaigrettes and mayonnaise.  The last section, at the end, includes a glossary of terms, acknowledgements, and an index.  In between the author divides salads into four sections:  appetizers, main courses, accompaniments (side dishes), and fruit salads.  The salads, as might be expected, are conceived of in a dramatic and expansive fashion, as some of these salads are molded, some are more conventional, and others just look like a mixed veggie dish that I would not ordinarily consider a salad under most circumstances.  As one might expect, the book has as lot of pictures of salads, and the author has included various possible substitutions based on what dishes are going along with the salad, to allow the reader a great deal of flexibility in making the dishes into his (or her) own through trial and error.  This appears to be one of those books that encourages experimentation on the part of readers.

Ultimately, this book is a bit of a mixed bag.  There are, as one would expect, a few dishes that I would enjoy trying, and it is worthwhile at least to name them here:  orange and onion salad, beef filet and paremsan salad (on a good foot day), smoked chicken salad with grapes, warm potato and chicory salad, and watercress and orange salad, to name a few.  Yet there is a distressing amount of salads here that I simply cannot have for one reason or another, and even those salads I would want to try are not always those that would be good for my health given my various concerns.  Beyond that, though, there are many salad recipes that feature an overabundance of cream, pork or shellfish, and fruits and vegetables (like grapefruit) that I have no interest in eating and have no enjoyment in whatsoever.  There are plenty of good salads here, but a large number that are not very good at all.  To be sure, not everyone eats under the same constraints that I do, and those whose tastes are broader than my own may find more to enjoy.  I was quite surprised that so many of the salads ran afoul of the biblical food laws, as I would think that there would be a considerable interest in making salads that would fit with such laws, to say nothing of even more restrictive vegan dietary restrictions, but that is clearly not the case here.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Book Review: Salads (Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Salads | Edge Induced Cohesion

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