Week 6 - Evelyn's Salad

An Evelyn-inspired salad. Photo: Marco Vetch

An Evelyn-inspired salad. Photo: Marco Vetch

It’s 6 AM and I am having a green salad for breakfast. A reaction to the UN’s latest climate change report? No, just Week 6 of the Great Colonial Cook Off.

This week’s recipe comes to us courtesy of the John’s Evelyn’s Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets. Evelyn was a visionary, a man well ahead of his time. In a country full of carnivores, he was a confirmed vegetarian who believed the key to health could be found in the garden (the fact that Evelyn lived to be eighty-six might be proof that he was right!). His book, Acetaria, is chock full of advice on growing and eating vegetables, but it’s not really a cookbook. Instead, it seeks to inspire and guide its readers. For example, here are Evelyn’s instructions on preparing salad greens:

Let your Herby Ingredients be exquisitely cull’d, and cleans’d of all worm-eaten, ſlimy, canker’d, dry, spotted, or any ways vitiated Leaves. And then that they be rather discreetly sprinkl’d, than over-much ſob’d with Spring-Water, especially Lettuce….After washing, let them remain a while in the Cullender, to drain the superfluous moisture: And lastly, swing them altogether gently in a clean course Napkin; and so they will be in perfect condition to receive the Intinctus following.

When it comes to the dressing, Evelyn is more specific and recommends:

the Yolks of fresh and new-laid Eggs, boil’d moderately hard, to be mingl’d and mash’d with the Mustard, Olive Oyl, and Vinegar

Here’s our best guess at a 21st century version:

  • 1 SOFT boiled egg

  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

  • ¾ cup olive oil

  • salt an pepper


  • Scoop out the egg yolk and place in a bowl

  • Add mustard and mix.

  • Add the vinegar and whisk well to combine

  • Add oil in think stream, mixing constantly with whisk

  • Season with salt and pepper

  • The vinaigrette should be thick. Dress your greens immediately before serving.

Evelyn’s approach to salads is the same as any modern chef - use the freshest ingredients you can find and treat them with respect. This week, we’re challenging you to follow Evelyn’s example and create a simple, but spectacular salad … a bed of fresh greens sprinkled with your very own custom combination of herbs, fruit and/or veg.

Need inspiration? Acetaria includes an alphabetical list of 73 possible “materials of sallets” including roots, stalks, leaves, buds, flowers and fruits. Use what you’ve got in your garden, in your neighbours’ gardens (best to ask first ;-), at your local farmers’ market, or what you can find in your community’s fields, forest and shorelines. Experiment with unusual combinations of flavours. Add colour with fruit/berries and/or edible flowers. Create creative. Amaze us!

And remember to post a photo of your Evelyn inspired salad on the Colony of Avalon’s Facebook page for a chance to win weekly and grand prizes. Up for grabs this week? An inspirational cookbook of salad recipes from around the world… of course!

Deadline for this week’s entries is 11:59 PM, Wednesday, August 21, 2019.

Jane SeversComment