A salad, known for its versatility and adaptability across culinary cultures, is a dish primarily composed of small pieces of food combined with a sauce, often referred to as a salad dressing. The base of a salad can span a broad spectrum of foods, including, but not limited to, vegetables, fruits, cooked meats, eggs, and grains. Garden salads, which utilize a base of leafy greens, are so prevalent that the term “salad” is frequently used specifically to denote such types.

There’s a wide variety of salad types, from bean salad, tuna salad, fattoush, and Greek salad, to somen salad, each offering a unique blend of flavors and textures. The salad dressing, a sauce used to add flavor to a salad, comes in many well-known types such as ranch, Thousand Island, and vinaigrette.

Despite most salads being served cold, there are exceptions like the south German potato salad which is served warm. However, the warmth of a dish can sometimes lead to it being categorized differently, like a casserole or sandwich topping.

Salads have a wide range of roles in a meal depending on their composition, they can be appetizer salads, light and served as the first course to stimulate the appetite; side salads, served alongside the main course; main course salads, generally containing heartier fare like chicken breast or slices of beef; or dessert salads, sweet concoctions usually containing fruit, gelatin, and/or whipped cream. The versatility of salads makes them a crucial part of menus worldwide.