Salad encompasses a wide variety of dishes, and salads can be found in the food of most cultures. From lettuce and vegetables, to pasta, beans, eggs and grains, a salad is a versatile and flexible addition to any meal. Most often thought of as mixed greens and olive-oil or vinagrette dressing, salads are popular, versatile, and healthy.
Salads are most often served as a side dish and can appear as appetizers, sides to large meals, palate cleansing salads to settle the stomach after a main course, or dessert salads. There are many variations of main course salads as well, and these often feature meats and cheeses or pasta.
Many salads consist of a mix of vegetables, starches such as pasta or legumes, and meat, poultry or seafood. Fruit salads consisting of fresh fruit, and dessert salads including gelatin or whipped cream are also widely popular. Traditionally, many salads are dressed with an oil-based dressing and garnished with nuts, croutons, or cheese. And, while many salads are served cold, some salads including German potato salad, are served warm.