A leafy, green salad needs the freshest ingredients

Cold vegetable and fish salads are important during summer months but the green leafy salad is one of the basic American foods. Always a refreshing part of a meal, it is served at the beginning as an appetizer, as a side dish to balance heavy foods, and after the main course as a palate cleanser. But in the summer, it is a seasonal standby and often serves as the main dish.

Today's mixed green salad can contain any number of greens from nasturtium leaves and spinach to leaf lettuce, kale, endive, Swiss chard, red or green cabbage, mustard greens, watercress, parsley, and all kinds of sprouts.

Different kinds of lettuce add shades of green from oak leaf, romaine, escarole, rocket, Bibb, and Boston to the Chinese cabbages and celery that also add a crispy texture.

Radishes, mushrooms, and pickles are easy garnishes for most any kind of salad, but be sure to serve your favorite dressing with a new one for second choice as an interesting alternative.

It goes without saying that in all salads, no matter how simple or complicated, the quality of ingredients makes the difference. Imperfect quality can be covered in many cooked dishes, but a salad needs perfect vegetables and garnishes not only for flavor but also for appearance.

The following salad with crunchy iceberg is a simple salad with a dressing flavored with mint to add something different to a basic combination of vegetables. Iceberg Vegetable Bowl 1 head Western Iceberg lettuce 4 small tomatoes, sliced thin 2 cups onion rings 1 cup sliced radishes Mint Dressing

Core, rinse, and drain thoroughly the lettuce, then chill in plastic bag or crisper. Cut lettuce in bite-size chunks to make 6 cups and turn into chilled salad bowl. Top with layers of sliced tomatoes, onion rings, and radishes. When ready to serve, add dressing and toss. Makes 4 servings. Mint Dressing 1/2 cup corn oil 3 tablespoons white vinegar 1 tablespoon chopped mint or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard 1/16 teaspoon paprika

Combine in small jar, cover tightly, and shake well to blend. Shake again before using. Makes about 2/3 cup dressing. Blue Cheese Dressing 1 cup dairy sour cream 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and chill.Makes 1 1/2 cups. Tomato Dressing 18-ounce can tomato sauce 2 tablespoon vinegar 1 teaspoon grated onion 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or tarragon leaves, crushed 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in jar, cover and shake well before serving. Makes 1 cup.

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