“Best of” Recipe & Wine Pairings—March 2021

The four weeks prior to writing this column just seemed to get away from me and, to be honest, I didn’t prepare as well as I should have. So, in my haste to write this article, it dawned on me that I have a simple “best of” recipe that is often requested when I attend a gathering. I have made this salad on an exceptionally large scale for up to 200 people at OCWS events with the Cooks Caucus including a few barbecues, the Home Wine Competition and a home wine competition wrap up event, and I have made it as small as a half recipe when dining with just a few friends. It can be easily tailored to serve any number of people. I have shared the recipe with anyone who has asked for it over the years and it is so simple, that if it wasn’t so good, I’d almost be embarrassed to share it with you.

Those of you that know me well know that I am not known for my culinary talents. Although I can cook and bake well from recipes, I do not have that innate sense of what flavors go with what that true chefs have. Although I have a good palate and genuinely appreciate the creations of others, I am merely a cook and, much in the style of Sandra Lee from the original Cooking Network, I create semi-homemade dishes.

This particular salad came from my frugal upbringing in that I just could not allow myself  to continue to expend the money on the exorbitant cost of the original salad from a local restaurant (shhhh…..Stonefire Grill) for the quantities that I wanted to serve, so I recreated what I thought was their recipe and, low and behold, it has been a winner ever since. I keep the canned and bottled ingredients on hand at all times and, becoming lazy in my later years, now buy the fresh ingredients already shred, if available.

I hope this finds its way onto your easy, to do list and that you enjoy it with whatever wine sounds good to you at the time. 


Shredded lettuce –  As much as you like, just pack the lettuce into the bowl as the base

Place equal lines on top of the lettuce in your desired amounts of:

Shredded Red Cabbage

Black Beans (canned, rinsed and drained well)

Corn (canned, rinsed and drained well)

Shredded Carrots

Scallions and Cilantro (diced and mixed together)

Shredded Cheese

Tortilla Chips (crumbled to use as topping)

*BBQ Sauce

*Ranch Dressing

(*Use good name brands, as it does make a difference, serve separately and drizzle equally on the salad on individual portions)

Additional Hints (from years of trial and error):

· A protein such as chicken or thinly sliced beef can be added to serve as a main course

· Serve the crumbled tortilla chip topping on the side, so they don’t get soggy on top of the salad

· Put squeeze containers of dressing and sauce on the table and allow guests to dress the salad to suit their tastes, also the salad doesn’t get soggy by serving on the side

· Play with ingredients to suit your taste (suggest not deleting cilantro/scallions)

· It’s easiest to dig down and serve the salad with tongs

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer