Don’t Forget Your Greens for Thanksgiving Dinner!

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In the midst of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, rolls, and pies, here’s a reminder: don’t forget your greens! I’ll be taking a Betty’s Salad to our Thanksgiving dinner celebration tomorrow.

Betty’s Salad was one of my mom’s signature recipes for as long as I can remember. If you grew up in Northwest Ohio, you’ve probably eaten Betty’s Salad at some point. While it’s appropriate to serve year round (and I do), it’s a hearty salad that offers a nice complement to the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

As a child, I never gave much thought to the origin of the Betty’s Salad recipe (why would I?). It wasn’t until college that I started to meet people who had no idea what “Betty’s Salad” was. And so I discovered it’s actually a regional recipe.

It’s kind of like Mom’s Relish Tray that until Good Cheap Eats posted about it being a midwestern tradition, I figured it was a standard appetizer dish in every American household. My Michigan grandma wouldn’t have hosted a Thanksgiving dinner without her tray of pickles and olives! Mmmm. She introduced me to the sweet gherkin. Heavenly pickle.

But back to the salad…

According to Food.comBetty’s Salad is a regional, Midwest salad created by Betty Timko and featured as a menu item at her restaurant, Timko’s Soup and Such, in Toledo, Ohio. The restaurant was located in a brick building at the Northwest corner of Sylvania and Douglas Roads of the Devaux Village strip mall in West Toledo. After Betty died, the restaurant closed, and her signature salad dressing is still produced and distributed at regional grocery stores.”

You can buy the dressing in the produce section of many Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan grocery stores (in fact, I saw it at Meijer yesterday). But it’s definitely not as tasty as making it from scratch. It’s quite easy to make, and while I haven’t calculated the cost of ingredients, I’m guessing it’s a whole lot cheaper, too!

Food.com has just a slightly different recipe than mine. The main difference is that their recipe has a little more sugar in the dressing. Below is the way I’ve always made it (straight from my mom’s recipe file).

Salad

  • 10-oz package spinach (flat or curly)
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4 to 6-oz bean sprouts (I use fresh, but canned is fine)
  • 6-oz can water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1-lb fried bacon, crumbled

Layer ingredients in a large bowl in the order listed above. Toss with dressing just before serving. You may not need ALL the dressing; be generous, but don’t drown the salad. If there’s any leftover dressing, save it for another day.

Dressing

  • 1 c. salad oil
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. ketchup
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 T. minced onion (dried) or 1 small fresh grated onion

Combine all ingredients in a well sealed, spill-proof jar and shake until thoroughly blended. Best if made several hours in advance of serving so that the sugar can dissolve and the onions can marinate. Optional – use a blender or food processor to combine dressing ingredients. Leftover dressing will stay good in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

Notes:

The original recipe calls for only spinach, but I like to make it with half spinach, half romaine lettuce. I also sometimes add sliced mushrooms.

If you don’t have time to cook your own bacon, a package of pre-made bacon bits works just fine (real bacon, of course!).

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the finished product. Hopefully I’ll remember to get a picture tomorrow!

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