People often ask me, when I tell them that I cook medieval and renaissance food "what did people eat apart from big joints of roasted meat?". Well, here is a wickedly lavish salad that proves that there was SO much more to the renaissance palate than lumps of flesh!
Compound Sallet [The English Hous-wife, 1615]:
To compound an excellet Sallet, and which indeed is usuall at great Feasts, and upon Princes Tables, take a good quantity of blancht Almonds, and with your shredding knife cut them grossly. Then take as many Raisins of the Sun clean washt, and the stones pickt out, as many Figs shred like the Almonds, as many Capers, twice so many Olives,and as many Currants as of all the rest, clean washt, a good handfull of the small tender leaves of red Sage and Spinage: mixe all these well together with good store of Sugar, and lay them in the bottom of a great dish. Then put unto them Vineger and Oyl, and scrape more Suger over all: then take Oranges and Lemmons, and paring away the outward pilles cut them into thinne slices.Then with those slices cover the Sallet all over. Then over those Red leaves lay other course of old Olives, and the slices of well pickled Cucumbers, together with the very inward heart of Cabbage lettice cut into slices. Then adorn the sides of the dish, and the top of the Sallet with more slices of Lemons and Oranges, and so serve it up.
An actual recipe with quantities isn't really necessary with this dish; as you can see, it is basically a great mixture of different ingredients.
- Sultanas (raisins)
- Red Sage
- Baby Spinach leaves
- Pickled cucumbers
- Lemon and Orange slices (for my salad I actually used pickled lemon slices)