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GardenSMART :: Old Cookbooks Are Keepers

Old Cookbooks Are Keepers

By Tommy C. Simmons, an enthusiastic cook
Photo by Tommy C. Simmons

If an aunt, grandma or parent is cleaning out cookbooks and offers some to you, take them. No matter how easy it is to search for recipes on the Internet, it’s just not as rewarding as perusing a thoughtfully written cookbook. Whenever I need cooking motivation, I can flip through the pages of a community cookbook, an old home economics recipe collection, Southern Living annual cookbook or a classic such as Joy of Cooking and Better Homes & Gardens and find one or more recipes and presentation ideas to inspire me to try something new and maybe even challenging.

Strawberry Salad With Cinnamon Vinaigrette is different version of a winter salad favorite

After the holidays, I wanted to make a different winter salad. I have several wonderful recipes for strawberry and greens salads, but I felt a need to put together a tangy rather than sweet combination of greens, veggies and winter fruits. I pulled out a community cookbook, “Colorado Collage,” published by The Junior League of Denver in 1995, and turned to the cookbook’s salads chapter. The chapter intro perfectly described my mission, “Salads are taking center stage as fabulous main courses these days, and this chapter is chock full of them, plus some new twists on old favorites.”

I found just what I was looking for a couple of pages into the section, “Strawberry Salad With Cinnamon Vinaigrette.”  I’ve now made this salad several times and tweaked it to accommodate ingredients on hand. It’s a lovely salad and I know I would never have enjoyed preparing and eating the salad if I hadn’t found the recipe in a cookbook in my cookbook collection. Thank you cookbook writers and publishers old and new.

Home Kitchen-Tested Recipe

Strawberry Salad With Cinnamon Vinaigrette
Serves 6 to 8. Original recipe is from “Colorado Collage” published by The Junior League of Denver. Adaptations are by Tommy C. Simmons.

Cinnamon Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup raspberry or currant vinegar (I use Balsamic vinegar)
3 tbls. granulated sugar (I use brown sugar)
½ tsp. Tabasco
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper (I usually add 1/8 tsp. red pepper, too)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon

In jar or cruet, combine olive oil, vinegar, sugar, Tabasco, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Shake well and chill covered at least 2 hours.

2 heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces (I use a combination of romaine, spring greens and shredded iceberg lettuce, about 1 ½ lbs. assorted greens)
1 (11-oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained (I use Dole Mandarin Oranges from a 23.5-ounce jar; this is a refrigerated product sold in produce section at most supermarkets)
1 pint strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup coarsely chopped and toasted pecans (I use pecans, walnuts, almonds or pistachios – all provide the crunch texture and taste desired)
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
(Optional additions include cooked broccoli florets, sliced carrots, green peas, and small chunks of Havarti cheese)

1.  In large bowl, combine lettuce greens, orange slices, strawberries, red onion, pecans, avocado, and optional ingredients (if desired).

2.  Add half of the chilled Cinnamon Vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Reserve extra salad dressing to serve another day. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Testing note: I use a mandolin to thinly slice - almost shred - the red onion. Avocado is also optional in my opinion. If you like zestier vinaigrette, add a teaspoon of Creole mustard to the ingredients before mixing.


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