Amy’s simple salad vinaigrette

April 19, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

My mother was born in 1922 and lived through the Great Depression. Her cooking was simple and practical. She taught me to make a dinner salad when I was eight years old because in our house, the child who set the table was expected to make the salad too. The daily salad contained iceberg lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumber and tomato, and was dressed with made-from-scratch vinaigrette. Here is Amy’s 20th century recipe (ca 1956), followed by my twenty-first century variation. —AppleAnnie

What You'll Need
  • Amy’s recipe, ca 1956
  • iceberg lettuce, torn or shredded
  • thinly sliced carrot, cucumber, celery
  • tomato cut into eighths.
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Twenty-first century, updated version
  • Lettuce from the farmer’s market
  • Crisp seasonal vegetables, shredded or diced: radish, cucumber, turnip, parsnip, carrot, beet
  • Fresh garden tomato or seasonal fruit (strawberries in spring, apple, pear, or mandarin orange sections in late fall and winter)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Amy’s recipe, ca 1956
  2. Put the vegetables in a wooden salad bowl.
  3. Pour the dressing ingredients on top
  4. Toss until vegetables and salad dressing are well mixed.
  1. Twenty-first century, updated version
  2. Whisk the dressing ingredients in the bottom of a wooden salad bowl.
  3. Add the vegetables and fruits.
  4. Mix until all ingredients are well coated with the vinaigrette.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lizthechef
  • gluttonforlife
  • MrsWheelbarrow
  • drbabs
  • JoanG

7 Reviews

JohnL January 2, 2014
JoanG, yes to an iceberg comeback! I recently ate in a restaurant that served an iceberg wedge with gorgonzola dressing, sprinkled with crispy crumbled bacon. It hit the spot in a retro kind of way. I never understood why iceberg lettuce got such a bad rap. I always thought it was wonderfully crisp and juicy in an old fashioned salad with Thousand Island.
Lizthechef April 20, 2010
What a walk down memory lane - I dreamed about my Mom all night long, me a former table-setter and salad maker :)
gluttonforlife April 20, 2010
In our house, too, the child who set the table also had to make the salad! So wonderful to remember how they gave us our start...
MrsWheelbarrow April 20, 2010
As I read your recipe, my mouth started to water! I loved that old sweet and sour dressing. And your new, updated version looks great!
AppleAnnie April 22, 2010
I never thought of the dressing as sweet and sour, but that is a good description. Hungarian cucumber salad and German potato salad have a similar dressing, without any mayonnaise or any thing creamy.
drbabs April 20, 2010
My mother used to make a salad of a 1/4 head of lettuce with thousand island (remember that?) dressing. Apparently iceberg lettuce is making a comeback. See
JoanG April 19, 2010
Your salad sounds great, quite an improvement over the 1956 version! I remember it well.