Salad Days

A Time for Tossing Around Summer in a Bowl

By Nancy Luse | Photography by Turner Photography | Posted on 07.01.16 – Feature, Food & Drink, Recipes

Whenever temperatures soar into the upper 90s and it’s too hot to even think about what to fix for lunch or dinner, let alone turn on the stove or oven, the go-to answer is a salad. A couple of months ago Frederick Magazine called out for readers to send in their best salad recipes—and they did. We felt inspired just reading the list of ingredients, many of which can be found at the vast array of local farmer’s markets and roadside stands. And when we sampled from the finalists’ salad bowls we knew we had the perfect fare for getting us through the summer.

Winner: Cold Cut Salad by Pamela Francis

ColdCutSaladT­­his is my go-to salad,” says Pamela Francis. “I love sandwiches, but have chosen a gluten-free lifestyle and, boy, do I miss a good cold cut sub.” She devised the recipe a couple of months ago and calls it a “cleaning up the refrigerator kind of salad” with whatever ingredients you might have on hand. Perhaps the thing that makes it consistently sing is the dressing which one judge said would be good eaten by itself.

Francis says she probably makes the salad once a week and sometimes may include sliced steak or chicken. Describing herself as a cook who tends “to throw things together,” she is adamant about having her kids also know their way around a kitchen. When she was a teenager, Francis says she had a job at a restaurant where she “started as a dishwasher and worked up to line cook.”

Francis says she enjoys trying new foods and “I can look at a recipe and know if it’s going to be good.”

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1½ cups of spring mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of cucumbers, sliced and cut in half
  • 3 slices of salami, chopped
  • 6 slices of mini pepperoni, chopped
  • 2 slices of honey ham, chopped
  • 2 slices of honey turkey, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

Dressing (make 24 hours in advance):

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Wildtree Hearty Spaghetti Blend
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 slices of red onion, sliced very thin and cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon of hot cherry pepper hoagie spread
  • Fresh black pepper

Preparation:

Toss together salad ingredients in a bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and pour on salad, tossing again to coat.

Runner-Up: Coleslaw by Joanne Dietz

ColeSlawI have no idea where it came from except that it was my mother’s recipe and I never asked her,” says Joanne Dietz. Her late mother, Dorothy Stup, would often make this slaw for family picnics. “I make it now anytime.”

Regular slaw often contains carrots, peppers or celery as part of the mix, but this recipe goes in a totally different direction, swapping them out for chopped apples and golden raisins and a dressing that contains crushed pineapple. “Pineapple is what sets it off,” Dietz says.

Asked if her mother was a good cook, Dietz quickly replies, “Gosh, yes. I could not compare to her. I’ve tried doing her fried chicken, her pie crust and, no, it is not the same. She went by recipes, but she also had a knack for” making the dish her own.

Dietz favors the bagged shredded cabbage called angel hair coleslaw that is the brand of Giant Eagle. “It’s just cabbage, nothing else.” She says she always sticks to the recipe, “I never play around with it,” but if someone has an aversion to raisins they can be left out and the salad is still amazing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup of sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 can (8 ounces) of crushed pineapple
  • Mayonnaise
  • 2 10-ounce bags of shredded cabbage
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins

Preparation:

Put first four ingredients in a quart jar; fill remainder of jar with mayo. Shake to mix. Pour dressing over the shredded cabbage, chopped apple and raisin mixture to desired consistency.

Runner-Up: Summer Corn Salad by Veronica Leigh

CornSaladThis corn salad can be served as a side dish for a barbecue or as an entree by itself, says creator Veronica Leigh, who devised the recipe about 10 years ago.

“We have a huge family,” she says, and when preparing a dish for get-togethers “I was always looking for something to bring” that was different. “This salad hit everyone’s buttons.” Although the recipe can be made with frozen corn in a pinch,

she says nothing compares to the fresh crispiness of corn right from the field or garden. Fresh, local tomatoes also give this salad added points.

Her cooking repertoire is all over the map, she admits, from Moroccan to Japanese to Greek and Italian. “We get bored easily,” she says with a laugh, adding that when she and her husband, Michael, go to a restaurant they always order something that “we can’t make at home;” and then try and duplicate it in their own kitchen.

Leigh says this salad can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon. However, the addition of cooking oil will be required.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound of bacon, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cups corn, may be fresh or frozen
  • Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
  • 2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 to 2 small fresh chilies or 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

Preparation:

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to crisp. Add onion and cook until softened. Add corn and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to brown slightly. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Drain fat, if desired. Squeeze lime juice into a large bowl and add the corn mixture. Toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be topped with crumbled feta or queso blanco.

Runner-Up: Balsamic Baby Greens with Bacon, Berries and Gorgonzola by Kate Engel

BabySpinachI have lots of kids,” says Kate Engle—five to be exact—and this salad is a big hit with the segment of the population that maybe isn’t so enamored with vegetables. “They all like at least something” in this salad, she says.

“I like it because it has everything in it. There’s sweet with the strawberries and salty from the bacon, plus lots of bits of other good stuff,” says Engle, who especially likes grabbing up the remnants of sunflower kernels, almonds and gorgonzola cheese at the bottom of an otherwise empty bowl.

Engle says she makes this salad all year, but may make substitutions such as cranberries for strawberries if strawberries are unavailable. She says the salad makes a nice addition when served with grilled chicken.

Engle describes herself as a cook who is “still learning, but I like to try anything.” She also would like to venture into gardening, “but we live in the woods.”

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of baby kale
  • 12 ounces of baby spinach
  • 6 slices of crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of firm, ripe strawberries, diced
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower kernels
  • 1/4 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

For the dressing, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Next, place kale and spinach in a large bowl. Top with half the bacon, onion, strawberries, sunflower kernels and slivered almonds. Pour dressing on top and toss to combine. Add remaining half of ingredients. Top with gorgonzola cheese.