Salad is a category of dish which basic ingredient is usually raw vegetable. Salad is often served with a sauce or dressing including oil and an acid as a light savory dish, with a minimum of three ingredients. The salad category also includes a variety of related dishes, including ones with cold cooked vegetables, including grains and pasta; ones which add cold meat or seafood; sweet dishes made of cut-up fruit; and even warm dishes. Though the prototypical salad is light, a dinner salad can constitute a complete meal.
Green salads include leaf lettuce and leafy vegetables with sauces or dressings. Most salads are served cold, although some, such as south German potato salad, are served warm.
Salads are generally served with a dressing, as well as various garnishes such as nuts or croutons, and sometimes with the addition of meat, fish, pasta, cheese, eggs, or whole grains.
Salads may be served at any point during a meal, such as:
Appetizer salads, light salads to stimulate the appetite as the first course of the meal.
Side salads, to accompany the main course as a side dish.
Main course salads, usually containing a portion of protein, such as chicken breast or slices of beef.
Palate-cleansing salads, to settle the stomach after the main course.
Dessert salads, sweet versions usually containing fruit, gelatin or whipped cream.