A good green salad before main course arouses the palate

When I’m hosting a dinner party, no matter what my menu is, I always include some type of salad. A perfect green salad is a delight, an interesting bouquet that’s always the most natural, unprocessed and refreshing part of the meal.

Especially at this time of year, greens are a welcome relief to a sometimes brown and white food plate. For an extra bit of sunshine, toss citrus fruit with greens for a brightly flavored addition.

I like to serve the salad before the main course to stimulate the palate for what’s to come. Any green leafy vegetable that tastes good raw is fair pickings for the salad bowl, tossed with a simple vinaigrette and perhaps a light garnish such as toasted nuts or grated cheese. The success of this type of salad depends on pristine ingredients — the freshest greens and best oils and vinegars.

If I’m doing a simple menu such as a grilled fish or a Shabbat roast chicken and potatoes, I prefer a salad that is a bit more substantial, with interesting combination of tastes and textures.

Good Green Salad

Serves 8

2 cups young spinach or arugula leaves

6 cups Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. red wine or balsamic vinegar

1⁄2 cup olive oil

8 slices of baguette, toasted

8 Tbs. fresh goat cheese

Tear salad greens into bite-size pieces and combine in salad bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until a half-hour before serving.

To make vinaigrette: In medium bowl, combine salt, pepper and mustard. Whisk in vinegar and then slowly whisk in oil until mixture is slightly thickened and well combined.

Spread each baguette toast with 1 Tbs. goat cheese.

Just before serving, toss greens with vinaigrette. Divide among eight salad plates and top each with a goat cheese toast.

Avocado and Radish Salad

Serves 8

4 avocados, peeled, seeded and halved

4 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1 bunch red radishes, shredded

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1⁄2 cup chopped chives

about 8 Oak leaf lettuce leaves

Brush avocado halves with vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Toss radishes with lemon juice and chives and let marinate about 15 minutes. Fill avocado halves with radish mixture. Serve each on lettuce leaf

Endive, Watercress and Blood Orange Salad

Serves 6

2 heads Belgian endive, cored and cut into matchsticks

4 cups watercress leaves (about 1 large bunch)

2 blood oranges, peel and pith removed, sectioned

1 small red onion, diced

1⁄2 cup imported black olives, halved and pitted

1 Tbs. sherry vinegar

2 Tbs. orange juice

6 Tbs. olive oil

2 tsp. finely chopped parsley

6 Tbs. toasted pine nuts

In large bowl, combine endive, watercress, orange sections, onion and olives. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, orange juice, olive oil and parsley until well blended. Toss with salad and taste for salt and pepper. Sprinkle with pine nuts.


Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Gabi Moskowitz. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].