We Made Judy Garland’s Vegetable Salad

Think you don't like vegetable salads? Judy Garland promises, "This one is different, honest."

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Judy Garland shared her favorite salad recipe in the cookbook What Actors Eat, When They Eat, published in 1939. The film buffs out there will know this is the same year The Wizard of Oz premiered, and that Judy was only 17 or so! In the cookbook, she says, “It is so easy to make that, if mother doesn’t happen to be around, I go out in the kitchen and whip it up by myself.”

The book What Actors Eat, When They Eat provided a list of ingredients along with somewhat vague directions from Judy Garland herself. Thankfully, PBS shared The History Kitchen‘s more finely tuned recipe, which we’ll use as the inspiration for this piece.

How to Make a Vegetable Salad, According to Judy Garland

Overhead ingredientsJennifer Schwarzkopf for Taste of Home

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 2 hearts romaine, chopped
  • 1 endive, sliced
  • 1 cup watercress leaves, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup olives, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen and defrosted under cold water

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

Initial Thoughts

After gathering all of the ingredients, I was surprised at just how much paprika was called for—and that there was no bright citrus included. However, I eagerly soldiered on.

Preparing the Salad

Salad ingredients in red bowlJennifer Schwarzkopf for Taste of Home

I prepped the salad ingredients, accordingly, except for a few adjustments.

  • I used one head of romaine lettuce, as it was quite large.
  • I did not include endive, due to lack of availability. (Here’s what endive is, for reference.)
  • While the recipe calls for diced celery, you can easily slice or chop your way down the stalk; it will not change the overall texture of the salad.
  • I used green pimento-stuffed olives, so as to avoid pitting them.

Making the Dressing

While The History Kitchen’s version upped the amounts of salt and sugar in the recipe, we stayed with the recommended amounts and after plating, added Maldon sea salt flakes, to taste.

To make the salad dressing, all ingredients are to be shaken or whisked together, then allowed to sit for five minutes, then whisked/shaken again. Then, after it sits for another five minutes, pour about half of the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly with your hands. Yes. Your hands!

That’s actually a piece of personal advice Judy Garland includes in the cookbook. “Oh, I almost forget something important,” she says. “That is to mix the salad and the dressing together with your hands. It makes a big difference because when you use a wooden fork and spoon for mixing you just can’t feel where the dressing misses touching some of the salad […].”

The Result

Close up with dressingJennifer Schwarzkopf for Taste of Home

Fresh ingredients like this—romaine, watercress, carrots, celery, tomatoes and peas—are a treat. The crunch of vegetables is always refreshing. (Just one of the reasons we love shopping at farmers markets!)

The olives, however, proved to be an…interesting addition. Paired with the hefty amount of paprika, they made for an unusual, vintage flavor. The combination’s smell and flavor made us recall eating in our grandparents’ wood-paneled basement.

The Two Things We’d Change

First, we’d eliminate the olives. Then, we’d change the dressing. Instead of the paprika, we’d add a splash of citrus, like lemon, lime or orange. You could even make a completely different oil and vinegar combination, like this walnut oil and apple cider vinegar dressing.

Reflection

I had a lovely time trying this blast from the past, feeling like I learned a little more about Judy Garland. While I glimpsed the vintage style of dressings, inspired by potlucks of old, I wished for more complex flavor profiles. Thanks to what’s in the grocery store today, we can play with a broader spectrum of flavors and exotic ingredients, not limited to the few available in the early 20th century.

So—play with your food. We love an adaptation of Judy Garland’s salad made with citrus juice and sans olives. But experiment and discover what flavors you love. Your taste buds will thank you!

Find recipes inspired by the Wizard of Oz and other vintage movies.

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Jennifer Schwarzkopf
Half Chilean, half Irish descent and all joie de vivre, I'm a food writer/photographer who loves to share stories about different cultures and the magic that is sharing a meal together. When not doing that, you'll find me working on my culinary degree, hanging with family & friends, and just trying to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Salud!