Cook the Books – Reflections on a Green Salad

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Welcome to our new series Cook the Books! We non-professionals attempt recipes from our collection and report back on results. Here, Libarary Assistant Sabena Singh kicks off the series. 

This weekend I made a green salad – a simple green salad from the book, “In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart” by Alice Waters. How many of us have cobbled a salad for dinner and either tossed in a bottled dressing (heaven forbid!) or made a quick home made one? I eat salad several times a week to accompany whatever else is on the menu for that evening. What I learned from this book was how to prepare the greens: careful washing in a bowl to take out the grit and sand, if any; dry the leaves thoroughly so a salad spinner is useful; then put the leaves in a clean dishcloth, roll it up, and place in the refrigerator until ready for service.


I have an affinity to unusual vinegars. I had just bought a bottle of green cucumber vinegar with citrus. It made me wonder why the label indicated that it was “green cucumber.” Aren’t all cucumbers green? If it was yellow, surely that would mean that it was past its prime. Even if there was a special yellow cucumber growing in the northern parts of the Himalayas guarded by the pig-tailed macaque who only left the area once or twice a year which enabled farmers to go and quickly harvest those cucumbers, I wouldn’t want it. Why? Because I like my cucumbers green and my mind refuses to imagine a yellow one. I know there are three different colored cauliflowers: cream, orange (sitting in my refrigerator) and purple. Same goes for carrots and radishes. Getting back to the green cucumber vinegar, I added mustard, salt and pepper, cilantro, and extra virgin oil to it and shook it in a bottle. After tasting it, I added a squeeze of a fresh mandarin. Perfect!

Green salad

When I was ready to eat, I took the greens and placed them in a bowl, sprinkled the dressing on it and mixed it lightly. Then I took the first bite. The salad tasted different from my usual rendition and the dressing, though unusual, made it taste just right.

Merci Alice.


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