Because of my lettuce intolerance, other than bland (but cool and crunchy) iceberg lettuce, and an occasional spinach salad, I cannot eat a green salad. No romaine, no bib, no mache, no endive, no other leaf lettuces can pass my lips without unpleasant results. The rest of my family enjoys salads though, so we have grown lettuce in the past and I have made lots of tossed salads for them, but I have always had to avoid them. My parents never got it when I was young, that my avoidance of salads was more than not liking the taste of lettuce, that lettuces other than iceberg actually made me sick, so I was often stuck at the table until I “finished my (romaine or other variety) salad.” What that meant was that I became very good at hiding salad in my clothes or napkin, or at passing it over to my sister or a brother.
I’ve always loved vegetables though, so was always happy when there was something other than a green salad being served. When I began cooking for my own family, I often made vegetable side salads so I could enjoy them right along with the rest of the family (who also all like vegetables). We still enjoy these salads frequently, but especially in the summer.
The wilted cucumber salad comes from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It is easy, versatile and inexpensive, and the cucumber slices are a nice addition to a variety of sandwiches as well as being enjoyed on their own. I always make a big jar of this to take camping as they kept well (but usually were eaten fairly quickly). The three bean salad is an old standby from years ago (I can’t remember where I got my recipe), and again is inexpensive and easy to make. I often look for cans of beans on sale when I go to the market to have them on hand, and the type of beans used in the salad can be varied depending on what you have in your pantry. The cauliflower salad recipe comes from my grandmother, who lived on a farm and cooked with what came out of her garden. I never really enjoyed this salad all that much when I was young, but when I found the recipe one day in my mom’s recipe file I figured out why: Mom always made it with Miracle Whip, which I didn’t (and still don’t) care for, instead of the sour cream the recipe calls for. With sour cream, it is cool, crunchy and completely yummy.
WILTED CUCUMBER SALAD
Make at least a day ahead so that the cucumbers can fully “relax” and absorb the marinade. When the marinade is first poured over the cucumbers it won’t seem like you made enough, but as the cucumbers wilt, the marinade will fully cover them. These can keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, although they never seem to last more than a few days at our house.
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar works well too)
1/3 cup water
4 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
4 medium cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
black pepper to taste
2 TBSP minced fresh dill (optional)
Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan; heat just to the boiling point, then remove from heat. Layer the onion and cucumber slices in a medium-large bowl, and pour the hot liquid over them. Cool to room temperature, then add pepper and dill (if using). Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and chill until cold.
The canned beans listed below are for the “classic” salad, but can be varied, although there should always be either a green bean or yellow (wax) bean. I have used garbanzos, white beans, and others, depending on what’s on hand in the pantry.
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar (or less, to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can each, well-drained:
- wax beans
- green beans
- kidney beans
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped green pepper (optional)
Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper; stir until sugar is dissolved. Place beans, onions and pepper in a large bowl, and toss with the dressing. marinate for at least 8 hours before serving. Can be eaten cold or at room temperature.
3 cups finely chopped raw cauliflower
1 cup seeded and diced fresh tomato
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tsp cider or rice vinegar
1/3 cup sour cream
salt & pepper to taste
Mix together the vinegar, sour cream and salt and pepper. Combine cauliflower, tomato and celery in a bowl; toss with sour cream mixture and chill well before serving.