News from the Tennessee Valley Food

Dorothy Vinson's Three-Pasta Salad is topped with ingredients like slivered carrots, chopped celery, green onions, cherry tomatoes and crispy noodles.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Dorothy Vinson's Three-Pasta Salad is topped with ingredients like slivered carrots, chopped celery, green onions, cherry tomatoes and crispy noodles.

Beans or greens, pasta or peas - adding toppings to salads makes dinner a winner

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

The best part of a salad supper is the variety.

You can ask a couple of dozen women to make salads, and some will use beans, while others use greens.

Some will go with fruit and gelatin or pudding combinations, while others choose pasta salads or chicken salads.

You may get slaws and potato salads, too, as well as your daily helpings of veggies and fruits.

And while many don't think of salads as make-you-full meals, you will probably be content by the time you sample six or eight salads.

Members of the Decatur Branch of the American Association of University Women discovered that a salad supper makes the perfect starter for its club year. They bring salads and invite guests, and everyone leaves satisfied and informed about the year of scholarship fundraisers, book sales, dinner and play get-togethers, meeting topics and future activities.

Whether you created your own or follow a proven recipe, the women agree that accents can make the salad. That includes a medley of ingredients: pepperoni slices; Feta, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses; tomatoes; fruits such as figs, grapes, apples and pineapple; and nuts such as pecans, walnuts, almonds.

The dressings are important, too. Poppy seed dressing can highlight chicken salad, while Italian or any fat-free vinaigrette works well on lighter salads.

A sampling from this salad supper includes Three-Pasta Salad from Dorothy Vinson; Spaghetti Salad from Brenda Sutherlin; "Ready to Run" Salad from Cathy Hansberry; Black-Eyed Pea Salad from Ann Gebhart; Sherrie's Slaw from Circuit Judge Sherrie Paler; Poppy Seed Chicken Salad from Jo Ann Harvey; and Watergate Salad from Brenda Williams.

A simple mixture of bagged spring greens with dried cranberries, Feta cheese and sliced almonds can be topped with raspberry vinaigrette.

Vinson likes to invent her own salads and often tops them with the crisp Asian-style noodles and dressing that goes with Wendy’s Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad.

“The problem with pasta salads,” she said, “is that you must cook each type of pasta separately.

Then you must put each in a colander to drain, and run ice water over them until they are cool.

“Don’t mix them together until they are cold,” she said, “and add the tomatoes after you mix all the rest together.”

Vinson likes to add items as she thinks of them: bits of slivered carrots for color, chopped celery for crunch, chopped green onions and freshly ground pepper for flavor.

“You can design this type of salad to suit your own taste,” she said.

Three-Pasta Salad

1 cup whole-wheat spirals
1 cup wagon wheels
1 cup small shells
3/4 cup extra sharp Cheddar cheese, chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
About 6 green onions (tops and bottoms) finely chopped
2 dozen cherry tomatoes
Small slivered carrots
Ground pepper
Crispy Asian-style noodles
Asian-style salad dressing

Cook and drain each of the three pastas separately and run under cool water until cold. Mix the three types together.

Mix together the chopped cheese, celery, green onions and carrots.

Mix the pastas with the veggies and cheese and keep cold. Near serving time, add cherry tomatoes and amount of dressing to suit your taste. Top with freshly ground pepper and crisp noodles.

Spaghetti Salad

1 141/2-ounce can diced tomatoes (drain well)
8 ounces thin spaghetti
2 large cooked and diced chicken breasts
3 ounces pepperoni
1/2 to 3/4 bottle zesty Italian dressing
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti and drain well. Drain can of tomatoes. Cook and dice chicken breasts. Cut pepperoni in half if using large size slices.

Mix all ingredients except cheeses and store in refrigerator overnight. Add cheeses before serving.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

2 cans black-eyed peas
2 cans yellow or white whole kernel corn
1 bell pepper
1 stalk celery
1 bunch spring onions
1 can diced or petite diced tomatoes

Drain and rinse black-eyed peas and corn. Drain tomatoes.

Dice (very small) bell pepper, celery and spring onions.

Combine black-eyed peas, corn, tomatoes and diced vegetables. Marinate overnight in your favorite Italian dressing. This can be served as a dip with a corn chip, such as Scoops.

‘Ready to Run’ Salad

One bag triple-washed mixed greens
1/2 chopped yellow pepper
Ripe fig halves or quarters
Medium diced cucumber
Grape tomatoes, sliced
Fat-free Feta cheese
Handful of pine nuts
Any fat-free vinaigrette dressing

Mix salad ingredients and top with your choice of dressing.

Sherrie’s Slaw

1 bag slaw (Dole’s with carrots)
1 finely chopped green pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 packs Sweet & Low artificial sweetener
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Lawry’s Season Salt
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 to 3/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients and taste. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad

Three 5-ounce cans premium white chicken, drained
1 red apple, diced
1 cup red or green grapes, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons poppy seed dressing

Combine all ingredients except dressing. Drizzle with dressing and serve in pastry shells as an appetizer, in croissants or over lettuce as a salad. Makes 12 servings.

Watergate Salad

1 cup miniature marshmallows 1 package (4 servings) pistachio Jell-O instant pudding and pie filling 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, in juice, undrained 1/2 cup chopped pecans 11/2 cups (half an 8-ounce tub) thawed Cool Whip whipped topping

Mix marshmallows, dry pudding mix, pineapple and pecans in large bowl until well blended.

Add whipped topping. Stir gently until well blended.

Cover. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve (making it the day before allows flavors to blend).

Join the club

For information on AAUW, call membership vice president JoAnn Cummings, 584-6567. In addition to monthly meetings and a December book sale, AAUW has book, bridge and gourmet supper groups.

Ham Ball

What’s the perfect appetizer for a salad supper? Forget the old standard: the cheese ball. Susan Graben thinks a Ham Ball served with crackers is just right, so she brought one along to this salad supper. Here’s her recipe:

2 cups ground canned ham

8 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon green onion

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts

Grease or oil hands. Mix first seven ingredients well and shape into ball. Roll in chopped peanuts. Top with cherries or grape tomatoes with parsley stems. Serve with crackers.

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