Food historians tell us salads (generally defined as mixed greens with dressing) were enjoyed by ancient Romans and Greeks. As time progressed, salads became more complicated. Recipes varied according to place and time. Dinner salads, as we know them today, were popular with Renaissance folks. Composed salads assembled with layers of ingredients were enjoyed in the 18th century, they were called Salmagundi, today they are called chef's salad.
1 garlic clove
drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
5 tbsp. walnuts
3 large handfuls baby spinach or other salad leaves
large handful basil leaves
200g pack bacon lardons
100g Roquefort, cut into chunks with a small, sharp knife
For the vinaigrette
4 tbsp. mild-tasting olive oil
2. Before serving, heat oven to 110C/fan 90C/gas ¼ Put in the tomatoes, still in their dish, and the walnuts, in a dish or on a piece of foil on a baking tray, to keep warm. Toss the spinach and basil together in a large bowl and season lightly.
3. Heat a little oil in a pan and sizzle the lardons for 3-4 mins until just lightly browned. Transfer to a piece of foil and keep hot in the oven.
4. Stir the dressing ingredients together and pour into a pan, which must not be more than lukewarm. Bring to a boil (the vinegar will smell very strong, so stand back), then pour over the salad and toss again to wilt slightly. Add remaining ingredients to the salad, reserving a few choice crumbs of Roquefort and a scattering of walnuts. Toss and transfer to plates, then top with the remaining cheese and nuts.