Book Review: Food52 Mighty Salads

Food52 Mighty Salads:  60 New Ways To Turn Salad Into Dinner, by the editors of Food52

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/10 Speed Press.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As a prolific eater and maker of salads, I tend to read a fair amount about them to see how salads are defined by others [1].  What I have tended to find in much of my reading is true here.  Many people who write about salads are hipsters who try to make salads overly complicated, with ingredients that are hard to find outside of left-wing enclaves within the United States, and include a large amount of ingredients I personally detest (mayo, okra, shitake mushrooms), are allergic to (mangoes), and that are offensive to the food laws of the Bible (pork, shellfish).  This book follows in that particular tradition, and so as is often the case with recipe books of this kind, this is not something that tends to be all that enjoyable to me as a writer.  That said, though, this book does include at least a few recipes I am curious to try, and that along with the book’s fantastic photography by James Ransom makes this book worthwhile.  This may not be the best salad book around, but at least it provides something filling and lives up to my own modest expectations.

The sixty salad dishes in this book are divided between several categories of salads, as is fairly common.  This book, for example, contains chapters on leafy salads, less-leafy vegetable salads, grain & bean salads, pasta & bread salads, fish & seafood salads, and meat salads.  These ought to be fairly easy to understand.  Some of these salads are ones which look pretty interesting with little or no removal or substitution of ingredients on my part:  the slow-roasted duck & apple salad, peanut noodle salad, and the charred broccoli & lentil salad, to give a few examples.  There are some thank yous and an index after the book’s main contents and many of the recipes include various tips on how to improve salads and also create some distinctive dressings, many of which include ingredients I am not particularly fond of.  Some of the tips, like how to sprout one’s own grains and beans and seeds, were appreciated, as I am quite fond of sprouts.  Readers who are fond of salads are likely to find at least something of interest here.

Clearly, despite my love of salads, I am not the ideal audience for a book like this.  The authors are under the assumption that the more exotic and unconventional the ingredients one can use, the better.  Likewise, the recipes show no awareness of or obedience to the dietary laws of the Bible, and it can be safely assumed that many of the contributors and the ideal audience for this book are in general hostile to the Bible and its laws for conduct and behavior.  The basic point of the book, that salads can be turned into compelling dinners, is certainly amply demonstrated by the book.  It is a shame, though, that this book is written for the audience that probably needs its advice the least.  This book appears to have little interest in addressing concerns of the availability of obscure greens or the food allergies and sensitivities that many people have.  This is a book for people who have no restrictions on what they eat and choose to eat exotic salads.  For a book that is so lovingly illustrated and where there was such obvious care and attention paid to the photography and the layout, one wonders just how many people the editors of Food52 expect to read this book.

[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: Food52 Mighty Salads

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