NZ Woman's Weekly

Old-fashioned salad recipes

It’s been a long time since I’ve come across the kind of salad my nana used to make. It featured cubes of cheese, slices of hard-boiled egg, bits of pineapple and beetroot, all covered in her condensed milk dressing. Salads weren’t a big part of the staple diet in New Zealand until about the 1950s when they suddenly came into fashion.

One of my old recipe books from 1959, 500 Tempting Salads and Dressings, says they had “become increasingly popular in recent years and with greatly widened consideration of what makes a salad”.

I’ve chosen some old-fashioned favourites which I think would go down well on today’s tables. I’ve also included one using gelatine. Moulded salads – which consisted of bits and pieces set in gelatine and then shaped into a ring – were very popular and seen as being quite glamorous.

This is a great salad and the vinegar gives it a nice jolt.

  • 6 new potatoes
  • 6 bacon slices, uncooked, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Watercress

1. Boil the potatoes in their skins; peel and slice. Fry the bacon until crispy. Remove from the pan, then brown the onion in bacon fat. Add vinegar, salt, pepper and sour cream. Add the potatoes and bacon. Serve hot and garnish with watercress.

I chose this salad because of its unique dressing, which I’ve never seen before. It gave the salad a lovely flavour and would go well with duck or game for dinner.

  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 1/2 head lettuce
  • 1/2 head endive
  • 1/2 head chicory
  • 1/2 bunch watercress
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp claret or other red wine

1. Rub a large salad bowl with garlic halves. Tear the salad greens into pieces and place in the bowl. Season with salt and pepper, pour olive oil slowly over greens and toss together until coated, but not saturated. Pour lemon juice and claret over the salad and toss once more. If you can’t find endive or chicory, replace with rocket and cos.

I have had an aversion since childhood to gelatine salads after I was made to eat one with peas floating in jelly. My daughter was kind enough to sample this recipe and says it was “okay”.

  • 1 1/2 tbsp gelatine
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp onion, chopped
  • 3 cups ham, minced

1. Soften the gelatine in cold water for five minutes. Heat the tomato juice, then add salt, sugar, bay leaf and onion. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, add gelatine, and stir and cool. Add the ham, pour into a mould and chill. When it is firm, de-mould and decorate on your plate.

Do you have a Nana recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at: or write to Nana’s Pantry, NZWW, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

Issue 1541

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