Catherine McSwain has made her Strawberry Fields Steak Salad for years — it’s her husband’s favorite meal, after all. The day she got a little tired of serving store-bought dressing with it, however, was the day it went from really good to exceptional.
McSwain’s entry earned the top prize — a KitchenAid stand mixer — in this year’s Ohio Cooperative Living reader recipe contest that asked for your best salad recipes.
More than 300 submissions rolled in from around the state, ranging from simple garden salads to mayo-based egg or tuna concoctions, and a surprising number of gelatin-based dishes mixed with anything from maraschino cherries to cottage cheese — there are lots of different kinds of dishes referred to as salad.
Catherine, a member of Adams Rural Electric Cooperative in West Union, says her salad is especially popular in early summer when she gets strawberries that are at the peak of ripeness — but oh, that dressing!
“The orange marmalade dressing just came to my mind one day when I was having a craving for something a little bit different than the usual dressings I buy from the store,” she says. “I had been watching cooking shows for a few years and felt adventurous enough to give making a concoction of my own a whirl.”
Donna Calloway, a member of Pioneer Electric Cooperative in Piqua, has been making her version of a fruity classic - Orange Cream Fruit Salad - for more than 30 years, since she got the basic recipe from her husband Brian’s grandmother. Now she serves it to her five grandchildren.
“This one has been handed down over many years,” Donna says. “It’s simple to make, and you can expand the recipe for however large your crowd might be — I used to serve it at birthday parties for all three of my kids.”
Carole Okuley, a member of St. Marys-based Midwest Electric, enjoys experimenting with recipes and food of all kinds. When her nephew married a woman from Taiwan, Carole was inspired to incorporate some Asian-inspired flavors into her cooking. When the call for entries came out, she says she just looked around her pantry to see what she could come up with, and this spur-of-the-moment cucumber salad impressed our judges with its unique combination of ingredients enough to award her a runner-up prize.
“I will often just use whatever I have in the refrigerator and pantry,” Carole says. “I don’t think I would ordinarily put pears into something like this, but I happened to have some, so I thought I’d try it. I’m glad I did.”