A salad is a dish consisting of a mixture of small pieces of food, which may be mixed with a sauce or salad dressing. They are typically served cold, although some, such as south German potato salad, are served warm. Salads may contain vegetables, fruits, cheese, cooked meat, eggs, grains and nuts.
Garden salads use a base of leafy greens like lettuce, arugula, kale or spinach; they are common enough that the word salad alone often refers specifically to garden salads. Other types include bean salad, tuna salad, fattoush, Greek salad, and Japanese sōmen salad (a noodle-based salad). The sauce used to flavor a salad is commonly called a salad dressing; well-known types include ranch, Thousand Island, and vinaigrette. Vinaigrette comes in many varieties; one version is a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs, and seasonings.
The word “salad” comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appears as “salad” or “sallet” in the 14th century. Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times. The phrase “salad days“, meaning a “time of youthful inexperience” (based on the notion of “green”), is first recorded by Shakespeare in 1606, while the use of salad bar, referring to a buffet-style serving of salad ingredients, first appeared in American English in 1976.