A salad, around here, is most often an ad hoc arrangement of that which is on hand. We all know combos which work so well that they have names: Salad Nicoise, Waldorf , Caesar, Cobb,and so on. Other salads- tuna salad, egg salad, potato salad, coleslaw, have endless variations either as written recipes, or improvised within general boundaries. French cooks, in particular, seem to have a lot of named, formalized composed salads in set format, which are repeated scrupulously, with reliable results.
I don't often make a specific pre-ordained composed salad, because I'm not shopping with such things in mind. So I usually don't have all the exact stuff for any particular recipe. Besides, I like to fool around. That is, unless. of course, I'm in the middle of, say, a spinach and pear salad obsession, or something, and eat the same salad nightly for days, even weeks. I was surprised to realize, while leafing through Elizabeth David's Summer Cooking,that I actually had all the ingredients for her very specific "Chicken Salad."
Also, it appealed to me, though I wasn't up for making my own mayonaisse this time. I'm pretty much housebound this week, and not into either shopping or elaborate preparations. I'm spending most of my time on the sofa, writing up stuff for work, while bandaging and elevating the foot I cleverly deluged with boiling coffee last Thursday. I'm hoping it heals up fast, so I can avoid a skin graft. Luckily, this was an easy supper to assemble from the pantry and in-house leftovers. Also, it didn't involve dealing with anything which could be considered, well, hot.
So, I followed the directions almost exactly, except for using Hellman's, and made this for "four people":
Meat from half a roast chicken, cut into generous "filets" (I interpreted this to mean pieces of a size to serve with knife and fork), 3 oz. sliced raw mushrooms, 1/2 pound boiled new potatoes, 2 romaine lettuce hearts, 8 largish shrimp, shelled and cooked, 1/2 cup mayonaisse, with some horseradish mixed in, and the yolk of a hardboiled egg.
Slice potatoes and put them in a bowl with the chicken, mushrooms, and half the mayo. Mix them, then spread the rest of the mayo over the top. On top of that, put the shrimps, and the romaine hearts (cut in quarters).Push the egg yolk through a sieve, directly on top of the salad, to fall "lightly and decoratively" on top.
This (I did eat more than 1/4 of it, must confess) and some crusty baguette made a fine supper. E.D. is the mistress of the simple, direct, and elegant recipe. My paraphrasing detracts, for which I apologize. If you haven't read her in the original, do. You are in for a treat. Next time I make this, I will do it in a flatter , wider dish, so the pretty little new potatoes, nice chunks of chicken, and sliced mushrooms will be visible under the shrimp/romaine/egg garnish.