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An “Elizabethan” Salmagundi from The Scottish Prisoner (Sort of)

An “Elizabethan” Salmagundi from The Scottish Prisoner (Sort of)

The Lord John Series

“I should be so pleased, ” von Namtzen said.  “But I am engaged…” He turned, looking vaguely behind him and gesturing toward a well-dressed gentleman who had been standing out of range.  “You know Mr. Frobisher?  His lordship John Grey,” he explained to Frobisher, who bowed.

“Certainly,” the gentleman replied courteously.  “It would give me great pleasure, Lord John, was you to join us.  I have two brace of partridge ordered, a fresh-caught salmon, and a vast great trifle to follow — Captain von Namtzen and I will be quite unequal to the occasion, I am sure.”

Grey, with some experience of von Namtzen’s capacities, rather thought that the Hanoverian was likely to engulf the entire meal single-handedly and then require a quick snack before retiring, but before he could excuse himself, Harry snatched the kidnapped papers from his hand, thus requiring an introduction to Frobisher and von Namtzen, and in the social muddle that ensued, all four found themselves going in to supper together, with a salmagundi and a few bottles of good Burgundy hastily ordered to augment the meal.

Diana Gabaldon, The Scottish Prisoner (Chapter 9)

“Scottsdale, we have a problem.”

“DG here.  Go ahead, Outlander Kitchen.”

“Seems I’ve made a bit of a mess of it all…made salmagundi the Salad, instead of salmagundi the Game, Duck & Truffle Pie.

(Radio Silence.)


I should have checked.  A simple tweet was all it would have taken.

The night before I created what you see above, I was rereading Chapter 9 of The Scottish Prisoner, looking for any specific descriptions of the table, seating, etc (for photos), when I really noticed it for the first time, right in front of my eyes:

“The room seemed very warm, and sweat gathered round his hairline.  Luckily, the arrival of the salmagundi and the kerfuffle of serving it diverted the company’s attention from verse, and he lost himself thankfully in the glories of short-crust pastry and the luscious mingled juices of game, duck, and truffles.”

Diana Gabaldon, The Scottish Prisoner (Chapter 9)


I even turned to My Englishman and inquired, “Why is he dipping into short-crust and meat juices when they just served a huge glorious salad?”

I like to think that I was already diving into the depths denial at that point, and not just being completely daft.

It was too late to change course, anyway.  All of the components for my salmagundi were tucked in Tupperware in the fridge, ready to go the next morning.

So I turned out the light, and promptly forgot all mentions of pastry.


That is, until I saw this series of tweets on Sunday morning, in response to my tweet of the above “salmagundi preview” photo:

@InnocentBystander to @OutlanderKitchn:  I always wondered what a #Salmagundi looked like! Thanks for tweeting, and @Writer_DG for retweeting!

@Writer_DG to @InnocentBystander @OutlanderKitchn: That’s a great salad, but it’s not a salmagundi. <g> Salmagundi is an assortment of game, mushrooms, etc….

@Writer_DG to @InnocentBystander @OutlanderKitchn: cooked in a pastry crust. That’s why Theresa’s calling this salad “Salmagundi for ONE” <g>. Very creative!

Oh dear.  It seems that there’s more than one way to make a salmagundi.

Which is not all that surprising when you learn that the name very likely comes from the French, salmigondis,  meaning “a contrasting assembly of things, ideas or people, forming an incoherent whole.”  Or,  it could also come from the Italian, salami-gondi, loosely translating to “savoury salt meats.”

I’m sure you can understand my confusion.

To compound upon my obvious lack of attention while reading (I saw salmagundi and lost all focus on the page), is the fact is that I have also had salmagundi, the salad, on the brain since I first came across the word years ago at culinary school.  I’ve suffered from salmagundi envy for many years.  (I like large salads, what can I say?)


I will make a salmagundi, the game, duck & truffle pie soon — just not today, I’m afraid.

My apologies to Herself for my mixup.  And the last thing I want to do with all this hullabaloo is detract from The Scottish Prisoner!  Have you read it yet?  I enjoyed the story immensely and it’s fast pace kept me, yet again, from sticking to my “savour it slowly” resolve…it was done in just 3 days.

I’d love to hear what you thought of TSP.  But for now, it’s time to get on with the show.


With my admission of my mistake and my apology behind me, I have no choice but to boldly go on — bluff it out — that’s what Jamie (aka Etienne Alexandre) would have done, oui?

So we’re just going to assume that the Beefsteak was having their annual “Dizzy-Lizzy, Elizabethan-Retro Week,” serving up great culinary classics from the 16th Century and beyond — like the very salmagundi you see here.

Described as a grandly presented, large-plated salad comprising many disparate ingredients, the cook’s aim is to display a wide range of flavours, colours and textures on a single plate. These can be arranged in layers, geometrical designs or simply mixed together.  Below is an early recipe for a salmagundi (the salad) from The Good Huswives Treasure, by Robert May, written in 1597:

“Cut cold roast chicken or other meats into slices. Mix with minced tarragon and an onion. Mix all together with capers, olives, samphire, broombuds, mushrooms, oysters, lemon, orange, raisins, almonds, blue figs, Virginia potatoes, peas and red and white currants. Garnish with sliced oranges and lemons. Cover with oil and vinegar, beaten together.”

It’s what George Costanza would have called a Big Salad.  For ease of explanation, you could also call it the Elizabethan version of a Cobb Salad.

With inspiration, it can almost be anything you want.  Given that My Englishman and I like to eat locally and sustainably when we can, much of what you see on the plate was grown and harvested right here on our little island.

The spiced walnuts are from a tree a few miles down the road.  The Cornish game hen was raised on Vancouver Island.  I roasted everything together, then put all the bones in the freezer to make stock later.

The pickled sea asparagus (samphire)  came from one of my foraging expeditions to a local beach, and the gorgeous, “best shrimp in the world,” Spot Prawns came from the Straight of Georgia.  My Englishman pulled the trap from the water himself.


The potato salad (that’s the mound in the middle)  is made from homegrown potatoes, with crisp bacon, dill and preserved lemon.  I smoked the devilled eggs first, then added a little spice with curry powder.

Most of the greens came from my winter garden:  cilantro, parsley, mint, radicchio and sorrel.  I poached the carrots in orange juice with a couple of squashed garlic cloves and some salt until they were tender-crisp.  They’re garnished with mint.

Everything else: the grapes, the citrus, the olives, the dates and the cucumbers are from the grocery store.  I made one of my favourites, a quick cucumber-pickle salad, German in origin, as another veggie component.  I reserved the marinade and whisked it with some olive oil to make the dressing.

As you can see, almost anything goes on a salmagundi, the salad.  In the springtime, asparagus would be a fabulous highlight veggie.  Beets are another good choice to add colour anytime of year.  Leftovers and pantry items can be turned into a beautiful salad with a mysterious name.  What better way to get everyone to eat their veggies?


Whew — what a week — first the crockpot porridge fiasco, now this!

I’d hate to think about my potential for disaster were I actually cooking on an open hearth surrounded by a wooden floor.

No, best not to worry about that.  After all, I won’t have to cook for days.  We’ve got a big salad to finish. 😉


  1. Kea
    January 9, 2012 at 4:50 am

    HILARIOUS! when i saw the sneak peak i thought ‘hmmm… i always imagined Salmagundi was a cooked dish…’ too funny. I too love big salads, and this salmagundi salad looks absolutely delicious.

    Finished TSP in 3 days also, but will go back for second read (where i savour the detail) in a few months or so…

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Perhaps I’ll get DG’s salmagundi up in time for you to “savour” it along with your re-read!

  2. Kathy C
    January 9, 2012 at 5:44 am

    I’d never heard of salmagundi until I read Scottish Prisoner. My first thought was solomon gundy (I’m an East Coaster) and I wondered why it would involve shortcrust, LOL.

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:34 am

      It does get rather confusing, doesn’t it! 😉

  3. Lee Ann
    January 9, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I still have to read TSP…but this salad is quite the creation! Mix-up or no 🙂

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Thanks Lee Ann! It was a labour of love…

  4. Oops. I’d have not been the wiser had you not said anything (of course, I haven’t read TSP yet). I look forward to the other salmagundi, but until then am more than happy to munch on this glorious salad! Well done.

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Christiane, you and I could graze on this all day! It’s a snacker’s paradise…

  5. deniz
    January 9, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I don’t care what they say, that salad looks absolutely gorgeous!! Bon appetit!

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:24 am

      Thanks Deniz! I highly recommend a salmagundi, the salad, for a special brunch, etc. Mine would have served 6 easily, and took me about 6 hours to prepare and plate. That sounds like a long time, but deli-bought items could bring down the prep time a lot. Use what ever you want, and just make it pretty!

  6. Heather Grant
    January 9, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Great entry – excellent save!

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Thanks! It was close there for a minute…

  7. Kiri W.
    January 9, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Wow, this looks to die for – I could dive right in! Great post 🙂 Can I steal a platter? 😉

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Kiri, if you were on our little island, you’d have been most welcome to a platter! I probably would have sent you home with one too…

  8. ruaTimeTraveler2
    January 9, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Everything looks so pretty!…All of it!

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Thanks, Vickie MacK! It was truly the most beautiful salad I’ve ever made…and it was soooo good and soooo big. We polished off the last of it for dinner last night. Be well!

  9. outlanderfan
    January 9, 2012 at 10:55 am

    It doesna matter which one you made- Jamie would have eaten either one to be sure! Like the saying goes:

    ‎”Every delay, postponement, or redirect, only means that the Universe suddenly had an even better idea.” ~ Mike dooley

    I like your salad version, and I too devoured TSP in a couple days. Couldn’t help myself…

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

      You’re totally right, Jenn! I’ve always wanted to make a Salmagundi, and now I have. And the best part is, I still have another Salmagundi ahead of me! I love food. 🙂

  10. Liz Marr, MS, RD @ Liz On Food
    January 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Your post is a stitch! Gorgeous salad…whatever the correct version is. Who cares? You nailed it.

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      Liz! As a nutritionist, you can understand my want for those men to have a few veggies with their brace of partridge and salmon, can’t you? Thanks — I was pretty proud of the final product! theresa

  11. Bri
    January 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    No worries! Thanks to you, we readers are now such informed foodies that on the off-chance someone mentions salmagundi at a fancy restaurant or party, we can say “Which one? You see, there actually are two types…” I think it worked out perfectly fine!
    It looks beautiful and delicious, my husband would particularly love it because he likes to leisurely graze on his food 🙂

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Awww…thanks, Bri! Just found an historical recipe for the salmagundi DG described…seems I’ll be shopping for calves feet next week…

  12. Lior
    January 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    i know it’s not what you planned…but it still looks good!!!

    • Theresa
      January 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks Lior! It does, doesn’t it? 😉

  13. Judi Nadreau (@JudiNadreau)
    January 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Your creation is a visual masterpiece! Did you really dare to dig into it? I don’t think I would’ve. At least not for a while after all of that work.

    I read TSP and need a reread or two. At my age I get a bit confused with too many plots and people. Well, not my age exactly, I’ve always been this way. My daughter and I discussed it a bit so the next reading will be more pleasurable with less going back to see what I missed.

    I’m really new to Twitter and love how it connects me here and to so many of my real interests. Thank you for this lovely site!

    • Theresa
      January 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Great to have you comment here, Judi! Welcome to Outlander Kitchen and I’m glad you like what you’ve seen so far!

      DG’s plots are complicated, to say the least…I don’t think there’s one among us who doesn’t have to flip back now and then to make sure we know what’s going on!

  14. Steve Skubinna
    February 17, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Just ran across this while researching modern takes on the old salmagundi. I first read of that dish (the salad) in the old Time-Life series the Seafarers, their volume on pirates. Apparently it was Bartholomew Roberts’ favorite dish and he was sitting down to a plate of it when Captain Chaloner Ogle and HMS Swallow arrived to end his career.

    And his life – the first broadside took his head off, so I hope he enjoyed the salmagundi.

    Anyway, that is one hell of an amazing presentation! I’m especially impressed that most of the ingredients are local, as I live a bit south of where you obviously are.

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