THE BIG SALAD – long before there was Elaine, there was Linda’s big salad

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“What is more refreshing than salads when your appetite seems to have deserted you, or even after a capacious dinner – the nice, fresh, green, and crisp salad, full of life and health, which seems to invigorate the palate and dispose the masticating powers to a much longer duration.”
Alexis Soyer 19th century French chef.

Hi there,

Long before Elaine was ordering her big salad at Monk’s and Melissa Clark was teaching the world to toss a salad with your hands or the New York Times featured the Lucali Salad, every Sunday my mother-in-law, Linda, was making a big salad.

Sunday dinner was mandatory at the Laganella household. And my mother-in-law, Linda, was our Nonna. I read this quote about an Italian grandmother which explains Linda completely – “The Nonna is the true head of the Italian family. She’s old and wise, so much so that your own father’s afraid of her.

The definition of a Nonna, Linda. Her husband, Vince, defending himself.

Linda would make the typical Sunday Gravy dinner – meatballs, sausage, pasta, and good crusty Italian bread. After we finished filling our tummies to complete capacity, out would come not just a big salad but a HUGE salad. Somehow we all found room for this refreshing and delicious salad. Everyone would pile the salad on our just used pasta plate because that little bit of meatball and gravy on a fork with the greens was a little bit of heaven.

Linda’s salad was truly a combination of a lot of flavors. She would start with iceberg and romaine. There were always cut-up tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, black olives, garbanzo beans, bell pepper, and any other vegetable she had in the refrigerator. She always added freshly grated Locatelli cheese right before mixing the salad. It was usually quite a game in the kitchen when she was grating the cheese because her sons were always trying to nip off a piece of the cheese and she was always swatting them away. When the salad arrived at the table the youngest grandchildren always seemed to somehow make finger puppets out of the black olives much to the horror of my father-in-law who firmly believed you should not play with your food.

I am just going to include the recipe for the salad dressing because I am sure you get the idea for the salad from my description.

Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ + ⅛ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder

I hope you all have enjoyed meeting Linda and will use the month of May to make cherished memories.

18 responses to “THE BIG SALAD – long before there was Elaine, there was Linda’s big salad”

  1. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles.!/supermegawoman!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    I love this! The description of a Nonna is perfect and German can be substituted for Italian and it works for our family. My dad wasn’t afraid of anything, except his mother! I also like that the salad was served after the hot meal. I much prefer to eat my salad after and always save some for the end of the meal. I get annoyed at restuarants when they want to take my bowl away when they serve the main course. I love big salads and will try this dressing. Thanks!

    • Thanks Darlene. I always think of the line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding – The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases.”

      ― Nia Vardalos
      tags: funny, marriage

      • Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles.!/supermegawoman!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
        Darlene says:

        That is perfect!

  2. 💜 What I Love Most about this is this EveryOne; a Girl who doesn’t Pick at Little “SALADS” and Stuffs HER!!! Face with a Lot More, a Girl Who Orders a Bigger Steak than HER!!! Date 📅 and Much More Fries and Veg 😂🤣😅😆😁😄😃😀🙂 🙃😉😊 😇 🥰😍🤩 EveryBody


  3. the Painted Apron – Life is all about creativity for me, as long as I'm creating something I am happy! I hope I will inspire your daily life and give you ideas for your own wonderful creations!
    the Painted Apron says:

    I love your stories Bernadette! I wouldn’t even need the meal if I had this big salad, sounds wonderful!

    • I often get salad as mu main course when I go out to eat. I love appetizers and soups and a delicious salad for dinner leaves room for a forkful of dessert.

  4. Long live the big salad! I loved reading this, and your story about Linda. In that picture, I could absolutely hear her telling Vince exactly how it’s gonna be. Hahaha

    • That is one of our favorite pictures because it so shows her personality. When she died Dom’s neighbor said to him that God could take a rest because Linda was up there straightening everyone out.

  5. VinceHomeMade – Australia – With a decade of experience in the commercial kitchens of London and more than three times that cooking with my family, I am now going to share what I have learned along the way. Whether it's a recipe for shortcrust pastry; a pro-tip on buying or using chef's knives; a review of a new ingredient or a new take on an old one. It will be all here as I start this blog journey, in text, pictures and video links to my Instagram and YouTube page. If you would like to help me on this journey perhaps you would click on the link to "Buy me a coffee"
    VinceHomeMade says:

    As was the way in our family when I was young, we never had platters of food in our house, mum insisted on serving everything on our plates in the kitchen in an effort to make sure we all got a fair share.

    Until dessert that is, then it was a free-for-all and sharpen your elbows!


  6. Retirement Reflections – Vancouver Island, BC – Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.
    Retirement Reflections says:

    I love this recipe, this post, and your closing line. I make lots of big salads. I will definitely give Linda’s salad dressing a try!

  7. What a wonderful looking salad Bernadette!

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