Salad days!

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.”

2 Servings
Preparation time
10 minutes
Cooking time
10 minutes
Total time
20 minutes
4 cups arugula or romaine
1⁄2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 ounces sliced strawberries
6 ounces ribeye steak
For Dressing
Additional Ingredients
4 T orange marmalade
5 T white wine vinegar
3 T grapeseed/canola oil
2 T water
1⁄4 t garlic powder
2 pn kosher salt

Mix all dressing ingredients in any order you like … it tastes great no matter what you put in first.

Grill or pan-fry ribeye steak that has been salted liberally. Set aside until ready to cut into thin strips. Prepare strawberries by slicing into pieces. Arrange salad topped with mozzarella cheese; add strawberries and then strips of steak on top. Dress with marmalade mixture to finish.

8 Servings
Preparation time
10 minutes
20 ounces 20-ounce can pineapple tidbits (drained)
16 ounces can peach slices (drained)
11 ounces can mandarin oranges (drained)
2 medium firm bananas (sliced)
1 medium apple (chopped)
3 2⁄5 ounces package instant vanilla pudding
1 1⁄2 cups milk
1⁄3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
3⁄4 cup sour cream

In a large bowl, combine fruits and set aside. In a small bowl, beat pudding mix, milk, and orange juice concentrate for 2 minutes. Add sour cream and mix well. Spoon over fruit and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

4 Servings
Preparation time
15 minutes
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1⁄4 cup sesame oil
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cups sliced mini cucumbers (1/4 inch thick)
1 1⁄2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1⁄4 cup finely diced onion
4 finely diced mint leaves (optional)
1 Bosc pear (peeled, halved, seeded, sliced in 1/4-inch slices, and cut into approximately inch-long pieces)
2 tablespoons grated carrot
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
1⁄2 red bell pepper (sliced like matchsticks)

Whisk together first six ingredients, then add the rest. Mix well to coat; let marinate a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. Toss a few times to coat well while marinating.