Salmagundi: A Celebration of Salads from Around the World, written by Sally Butcher, is a collection of 150 salad recipes with flavors from all over the world. The name Salmagundi comes from the 17th-century English expression of a salad that has everything and you will definitely find a little bit of everything in this book. Traditional dishes (Gado Gado: Indonesian Peanut Salad, Insalata di Fagiolini: Italian Green Bean Salad, Salad-e-Shirazi, Mauritian Palm Heart Salad, Bok L’Hong: Sour Green Papaya Salad, Rujak: Spicy Sumatran Fruit Salad) are mixed in alongside more unique and interesting combinations (Avocado Shrimp Jello Salad, Seaside Salad, Steak and Fries Salad, Black Forest Ham with Sour Cherries and Blackberry Vinaigrette, Poached Autumn Fruit Salad with Elderflower Custard). For those wanting to follow healthy-eating New Year’s resolutions, multiple dishes also have the tagline of “Super-Healthy”.
Sally Butcher is a food blogger, writer, and runs the Persian food store, Persepolis, in London with her husband. In addition to Salmagundi, she has also written Persia in Peckham: Recipes from Persepolis, The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian: Modern Recipes from Veggiestan, and New Middle Eastern Street Food: Snacks, Comfort Food, and Mezze from Snackistan.
Chapters are divided based on main ingredient: Herbs and Leaves, Vegetables, Roots and Squash, Peas and Beans, Grains and Pasta, Rice, Cheese, Fish, Meat, Fruity Salads, Salads for Dessert, Dips: The Not-Quite-Salad Salad, The Dressing Room, and the Prop Cupboard.
In the introduction, Butcher outlines a brief history of salads, including an excerpt of a document describing the preparation of the Salmagundi. I particularly enjoyed the humorous notes in Butcher’s writing and stories. There are facts and tidbits throughout the book to help you in your salad preparation, from herb and root vegetable guides to tips on urban foraging and growing your own garden. The dressing room chapter includes a pantry listing of oils, vinegars, and other products used to dress the salads. The prop cupboard lists ways to add something extra to your salad: croutons, sprinkles and crunchies (i.e. granola or fried legumes), homemade bacon bits, edible flowers, herbs, nuts, seeds, and other flavorings. It also has a guide for fruit and vegetable carving to boost presentation. These sections help build your own salad making skills and imagination.
Every recipe includes a headnote with an introduction, background information, tips, substitutions, and serving ideas for the dish. Measurements are provided in US Customary and Metric. Instructions are straightforward and easy to follow.
The photography is provided by Yuki Sugiura. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a beautifully-styled full page photo of the finished dish.
This book is a great choice for those wanting to add international flavors and combinations to their salads. The recipes range from appetizers to desserts, superfoods and healthy to less so, spring to winter. You will find incredibly simple dishes from the five ingredient Cahoo va Sekanjebin: Lettuce Steaks with Mint Syrup to the more complex modern equivalent to salmagundi: the Guatemalan Fiambre with a whopping 43 ingredients. Many of the recipes include ingredients that are easily found in the average American grocery store, but a few may require a trip to the International food market or purchasing online such as sumac, harissa paste, mace, pomegranate molasses, cardamom pods, and labneh.
The recipe I chose to share with you may not be the healthiest one from the book, but it holds a special place in my heart as a German dish. The Kartoffelsalat (German Potato Salad) varies based on the region. This version is inspired by Bavaria in Southeastern Germany.
Potatoes are boiled until just cooked, peeled, and sliced. They are seasoned with an oil-vinegar-broth dressing and tossed with bacon, sliced onions, and parsley. Butcher added a few optional extras: smoked cheese, red apples, and dill pickles. You can use one or enjoy them all. I have a new love for smoked mozzarella. She recommends serving the salad with sauerkraut, kimchi, and/or beer.
I also made A Winter Herb Salad: Carrot and Crispy Kale, Hail Caesar (Caesar Salad), Mustard Dog Salad, and Ricotta with Honey and Papaya.
The Carrot and Crispy Kale Salad was Chad’s favorite from the book. He ate all of the leftovers straight from the mixing bowl, then asked for more. The kale and carrots are tossed with olive oil, caraway, and fennel seeds, then roasted until crisp. The salad is seasoned with pepitas, apple strips, smoked cheese, mixed fresh herbs, and an apple cider pomegranate dressing. Butcher recommends serving the salad with a roasted pork or lamb dinner.
Butcher includes a more authentic version (you won’t find any anchovies here) of the Caesar Salad. Garlic lovers will enjoy this dish especially. Before preparing the salad, minced garlic is soaked in olive oil overnight. This garlic-infused oil is then brushed over cubes of bread to make croutons. The remaining oil is combined with a coddled egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper to create the dressing. It is then served over romaine lettuce with the croutons and freshly grated Parmesan.
The Mustard Dog Salad was quite the interesting and delicious dish. Grilled frankfurters are tossed with carrots, white cabbage, cherry tomatoes, and frisee. The dressing has a bit of a kick with cayenne, sour cream, ketchup, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. The salad is served with sandwich-like croutons seasoned with English mustard and filled with onions.
We actually enjoyed the Ricotta with Honey and Papaya as a part of our breakfast one weekend morning. This salad comes together quickly, in roughly 5 minutes. Slices of papaya and ricotta are arranged on a platter, topped with a honey orange sauce and fresh mint. I had never tried anything like it. I think it was also my first time trying papaya and I loved it.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Interlink Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own.
Adapted from Salmagundi: A Celebration of Salads from Around the World
2 pounds (900 grams) firm potatoes, such as red skinned or waxy salad potatoes
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
6 slices of thick streaky bacon, cubed
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup (125 ml) beef stock
scant 1/4 cup (50 ml) canola or sunflower oil
scant 1/4 cup (50 ml) red wine vinegar
handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 1/2 ounces (150 grams) smoked cheese, cut into tiny cubes
2 small red apples, cored and cubed
6 dill pickles
Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender but still firm. Drain and allow to cool until about to be handled.
In a skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until heated through and lightly crisp. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon. If using the optional smoked cheese, toss it with the bacon. Add the sliced onion to the skillet and cook until translucent and golden. Transfer to the top of the plate of bacon. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.
Peel the potatoes and cut into half moon slices. Place in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together beef stock, oil, vinegar, and bacon fat. Pour over the potato slices. Gently toss in the bacon and onions, parsley, and apples and pickles if using. Do not overmix and mash the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.