Monday, August 9, 2010

Side Dishes: (Take One) Salads

I love that my friends and readers are suggesting blog post topics to me on a (fairly) regular basis!  Sometimes it’s good to have a little assisted inspiration.  And recently a good friend asked me to post on side dishes.  I came up with so many recipe ideas that I thought it would make a good series of posts instead of one VERY long one!  So we’ll start this series with salad recipes.  These are salads I’ve made at various points in my life, sometimes to the point of overkill.  And some are still ones that I make regularly.  But they’re all beloved!

Snickers Salad
6 Snickers candy bars
2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding mix
8 0z Cool Whip
5-6 Granny Smith apples
3 C milk

Peel & cut apples into bite-size pieces (I don’t always peel; sometimes I use my apple wedger & then cut the wedges into chunks).  Cut candy bars into bite-size pieces.  Mix milk & pudding together; fold in Cool Whip.  Add apples & candy bar pieces. 

Pasta Salad
1/3 C oil
1/3 C vinegar
1/3 C sugar (I use slightly less than 1/3 C)
Garlic pwdr, onion pwdr, pepper, onion flakes to taste
Pepperoni, diced, to taste
Baby carrots, sliced, to taste
½ bag/box of cooked pasta, drained (I prefer gemelli or radiatore)

Combine first 4 ingredients; add pepperoni & carrots.  Drain pasta & toss with sauce.  Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve, stirring often.

Asian Slaw
16 oz. broccoli slaw mix
2 pkgs. beef ramen noodles
¼ C sliced almonds
½ C sunflower nuts
2 T vinegar
¾ C oil
1/3 C sugar

Mix together ramen noodle seasoning packets, vinegar, oil & sugar.  Crumble raw noodles.  Add remaining ingredients; pour dressing over and toss well.  Serve immediately.  (If making ahead, add crumbled noodles only right before serving.)

Acini de pepi Salad (old family favorite from my Grandma Peterson)
16 oz. pkg of acini de pepi (small pasta, similar to tapioca in shape)
Cook in salted water for 8 min; rinse & drain well.  Cool.

1 C sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp salt
2 T flour
1 ¾ C pineapple juice (use from drained pineapple to add in later)
Mix & cook til thick.  Pour over pasta & refrigerate overnight. 

Add next day:
Small can crushed pineapple, drained
Regular size can pineapple tidbits, drained
2 small cans mandarin oranges, drained
10 oz. pkg mini-marshmallows (optional)
8 0z. Cool Whip

Refrigerate; best if stands awhile.  Makes a very large batch.  Freezes well.

Broccoli Orange Salad
4 C fresh broccoli florets, bite-size
½ C cashews
Small red onion, chopped
½ C buttermilk ranch dressing
2 T orange juice
1 T horseradish sauce
Small can mandarin oranges, drained

Mix ranch dressing, orange juice & horseradish sauce together.  Poor over other ingredients, adding mandarin oranges gently at end.  Mix well & chill for 2 hours. 

Grape Salad
2 C fruit (can use mixed berries, but I prefer just grapes)
2 individual containers vanilla yogurt
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix

Mix pudding mix & yogurt together (will be very thick); fold in Cool Whip.  Add in fruit gently.

Berry Peach Bellini Salad
¼ C orange juice
3 T sugar
4 medium peaches, peeled, pitted & cut into bite-size chunks
1 C raspberries or diced strawberries (I prefer strawberries)
2 C sparkling wine or lemon-lime soda (I’ve only ever used Sprite or 7-Up; can use diet)

Mix orange juice & sugar together.  Add peaches & berries.  Divide fruit evenly into 4 individual serving cups.  Cover & freeze at least one hr.  About ½ hr before serving, remove cups from freezer.  Let stand until slightly thawed.  Poor sparkling wine or soda over fruit evenly.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Buttermilk Salad (aka Striped Cookie & Mandarin Orange Salad)
1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
1 ½ C buttermilk (will make mix a bit thicker & tangier, but can use reg. milk)
8 oz Cool Whip
½ pkg fudge-striped shortbread cookies, crumbled (can use caramel-striped as well)
Small can mandarin oranges, drained

Mix pudding with buttermilk; fold in Cool Whip.  Add crumbled cookies & oranges; mix gently.  Serve immediately.  (If making ahead, add crumbled cookies only right before serving.)

Southwestern Black Bean Salad
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
9 0z frozen corn, thawed
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, diced
¼ C red onion, chopped
1 green onion/scallion, sliced
Juice of 1 lime
3 T olive oil
1 T cilantro, optional (gross!)
Salt & pepper

Combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, green onion, cilantro (gross!), salt & pepper.  Mix with lime juice & olive oil.  Marinate in fridge for 30 min.  Add avocado before serving.  (My friend Stef uses lemon juice instead of lime, which would be handier since I always have it on hand in the fridge.  But I haven’t tried that yet.)  This can be served with tortilla chips or on lettuce.  But I eat it ‘as is’ with a spoon!

Picnic Potato Salad (oil based, not mayo – different, but a bit lighter & good!)
10 medium red potatoes, cubed
2/3 C oil
2 T cider vinegar
4 tsp honey
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried marjoram
¼ tsp dried mint
Dash cayenne pepper

Place potatoes in a large saucepan & cover with water.  Cover & bring to a boil over med-high heat; cook for 15-20 min or until tender.  Drain & place in a large bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients; pour over potatoes & toss to coat.  Cool to room temp.  Cover & refrigerate til serving.  Serves 12.

**Note:  Unless otherwise noted, I normally use sugar-free pudding mixes, light Cool Whip, turkey pepperoni, canola oil & white vinegar.


  1. I'm so glad to have the snickers salad recipe! I was just wishing I had this the other day!! thank you thank you thank you.

  2. Two quick and easy tricks for fruit salads are to use a jam/jelly as a dressing and to use a smidge of sugar mixed with citrus zest. If you nuke jelly or jam for like 30 seconds, it becomes runny enough to pour over a fruit salad creating an instant dressing and added flavor. And adding sugar/zest also does the same thing as it draws out the natural sugars in the fruit and then adds a kick of flavor like lime or orange. You can do them on a mixed fruit salad like bananas with strawberries and grapes or just add them to one fruit like bananas covered with strawberry jam/jelly.