In the Washingtons’ day, as in ours, salads were welcome a welcome presence on the table, valued for their healthful qualities. Assorted greens were used, including watercress, parsley, sorrel, and different leaf lettuces, often topped with colorful and edible flowers, such as nasturtiums or calendula. Endive and spinach were planted for winter use, as Colonial-era housewives sought to bring variety to the table during the cold months.
Greens of various kinds were grown at Mount Vernon, both in the gardens and the greenhouse. George Washington imported his salad oil from London.
E. Taylor, whose 1769 recipe is adapted here, recommended serving the salad in a china or earthen bowl.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 pounds assorted lettuces—such as romaine, mache, or soft-leaf lettuces such as Bibb or Boston—trimmed and leaves separated
  • Assorted fresh herbs, such as basil, lemon thyme, and salad burnet
  • 1 bunch watercress, trimmed and stems separated
  • About 3 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 to 4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Directions

    1. Toss together the lettuces, herbs, watercress, celery, green onions, and dressing in a large serving bowl and serve immediately.

    Serves 6 to 8

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