Salmagundy (picture from the Williamsburg website)

When I went to Ireland, getting a fresh salad was neigh impossible. If one asked for a salad, you got a wedge of iceburg and a tempid dressing. The comment I kept hearing was salad was for livestock- grass was not preferred on a plate. Looking to England, I figure that the attitude might be the same. Much to my surprise, I found an 18th century recipe for a salad called Salmagundy. I made this salad and it reminds me of a Cobb salad, great in hot weather and very refreshing.

Looking a bit further, I found that Salmangundy goes back to the 17th century. It’s derived from a French word.

The French word “salmagondis” means a hodgepodge or mix of widely disparate things. The dish aims to produce a wide range of flavors and textures, a kind of salad stew, and popular on pirate ships, believe it or not. (Wikipedia) I found 2 Recipes for salmagundy dating back to the 1500’s and they sound pretty good to me.

  • “Cut cold roast chicken or other meats into slices. Mix with minced tarragon and an onion. Mix all together with capers, olives, samphire, broombuds, mushrooms, oysters, lemon, orange, raisins, almonds, blue figs, Virginia potatoes, peas and red and white currants. Garnish with sliced oranges and lemons. Cover with oil and vinegar, beaten together.” (from The Good Huswives Treasure, Robert May, 1588–1660)
  • “A mixture of minced veal, chicken or turkey, anchovies or pickled herring, and onions, all chopped together and served with lemon juice and oil.”

I found the following recipe on the Williamsburg website “History Is Served: 18th Century Recipes for the 21st Century Kitchen.


18th Century

TAKE two or three Roman or Cabbage-Lettuce; and when you have wash’d them clean, swing them pretty dry in a Cloth; then beginning at the open End, cut them cross-ways, as fine as a good big Thread, and lay the Lettuce so cut about an Inch thick in the Bottom of a Dish: When you have thus garnish’d your Dish, take a couple of cold roasted Pullets or Chickens, and cut the Flesh of the Breasts and Wings into Slices about three Inches long, a quarter of an Inch broad, and as thin as a Shilling, lay them upon the Lettuce round the one End to the middle of the Dish, and the other toward the Brim: Then having bon’d and cut half a dozen Anchovies, each into eight Pieces, lay them all round betwixt each Slice of the Fowls; then cut the lean Meat of the Pullets or Chickens Legs into small Dice, and cut a Lemon into small Dice: Then mince the Yolks of four hard Eggs, with three or four Anchovies, and a little Parsley; and make a round Heap of these in the middle of your Dish, piling it up in the Form of a Sugar-loaf, and garnish it with small Onions as big as the Yolks of Eggs, boiled in a good deal of water, very tender and white; put the largest of the Onions on the middle of the minc’d Meat on the top of the Salamongundy, and lay the rest all round the Brim of the Dish, as thick as you can lay them; then beat some Sallad-Oil up with Vinegar, Salt, and Pepper, and pour over it all; garnish with Grapes just scalded, or French Beans blanched, or Station-Flowers, and serve it up hot for a first Course.

Nott, Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary, Art. 35.

21st Century

(I split everything in half for two and it worked extremely well)

  • 1 whole chicken, roasted
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce (I used hearts of Romaine although the hydoponically grown “living” leaf lettuce would be wonderful too )
  • 2 small onions (I used spring onions)
  • 2 2-oz. tins of flat anchovy fillets, partially drained
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 slices of ham (6” round, medium thickness)
  • 4 Tbsp. vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  1. After chicken is roasted, separate meat from the bone. Coarsely chop, keeping the dark meat separate from the white meat.
  2. Shell hard-boiled eggs. Separate the yolks from the whites and mince each separately.
  3. Finely chop the onions and parsley, and dice the lemons. Keep separate.
  4. Cut ham slices into 1” squares.
  5. Wash and drain lettuces, separate leaves, and dry.
  6. On a large round plate, arrange your ingredients as follows, working from the outside into the center in rings: red lettuce leaves, green lettuce leaves, white chicken meat, anchovies, minced egg yolks, diced lemon, dark chicken meat, onions, ham pieces, parsley, and egg whites.
  7. In a small bowl, add oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper (to taste). Mix well and drizzle over entire salad. Serve.