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Our Community Table: Cousin Lois's Crunch Salad

Cousin Lois's Crunch Salad

Summertime greetings OCT readers!

As I write this article, it is a delightful 83 degrees, the sun is shining brightly, and there is the slightest whisper of a breeze gently caressing the leaves in the garden. I love summer! Some of my favorite summertime memories revolve around family trips to the lake. Every summer, my family, extended family, and even a few close family friends who rotated in on occasion, would spend two sun-drenched, glorious weeks together in South Haven, Michigan. Some owned places, most rented units very nearby—lakefront—the beach just a few short steps from our doors. It was an idyllic way to spend the summer holiday.

Each morning, the women of the family, young and old, would go together for what seemed like a very, very, very long and talkative walk. This walk would always end at Bundy’s, a local bakery, where we gleefully selected provisions of sugar sparkled breads and fat muffins bursting with fruits, all fresh from the oven, to bring back for the rest of the clan. Then, after a most generous slathering of sunscreen, or as Alicia used to un-affectionately call it, sun scream, it was off to the beach or to whatever was planned for the day. And every evening, we’d gather for the family meal.

I loved dinners at cousins Lois and Helene’s best. First cousins of my mother, these two are wonderful cooks, skillful entertainers, and are altogether glamourous and fabulous. Their husbands were equally amusing individuals, one of whom had mastered the art of speaking “Kcab Klat”, or “back talk”. He and my father would delight in annoying literally everyone with their weird speaking skills—mainly in English but occasionally in Yiddish. The food for these family feasts was always abundant, items off the grill, or a pasta or pizza of some type or other, a side dish here, a side dish there, and of course, “the salad.”

Cousin Lois was forever trying to figure out a local restaurant’s (I think it was called The Vineyard) “secret dressing.” She decided that Good Seasons brand packet dressing with a slightly altered vinegar to olive oil ratio and a healthy dose of grated Parmesan added to the dressing, along with loads of shredded mozzarella on the tomatoes and greens came closest, but just to be sure, let’s try it one more time… And while I could probably make her “Vineyard” dressing salad in my sleep we had it so often, my favorite was always her crunch salad. There was just something about the slightly sweet-tart nature of the dressing, the crunch of the sunflower seeds, slivered almonds and Chinese toasted rice noodles, and the watery, fresh crispness of the iceberg lettuce that I loved. We all did.

It is an ideal recipe for summer as it is simple to make, easy to travel with, and will not spoil in the summer’s heat. And speaking of summer, I hope you are all doing something wonderful…if I close my eyes I can almost hear my younger cousins squabbling….I mean, the waves roaring up to the shore.

Happy Summer, friends!

Cristyne Porile
Community Contributor

4 green onions (both the green and the white parts), chopped
½ cup canola oil
6 Tablespoons (scant 1/3 cup) Rice Vinegar (I use the seasoned but unseasoned is fine)
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 can rice noodles, (@ 3 ounces/ LaChoy brand is good for this)
1 package slivered almonds (@ 1 cup), toasted if you prefer, but not necessary to toast
1 jar (6-8 ounces) roasted sunflower seeds, salted or not
1 large head iceberg lettuce, washed, dried, cored and chopped

Mix together all ingredients except the lettuce.
Pour the dressing over the lettuce and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
This can be made into a more substantial salad with the addition of grilled chicken slices or a piece of oven-roasted salmon on top.
This salad is best consumed the day it is made as after several hours, the rice noodles become very soggy.
To prepare ahead of time for travel or picnics, combine onions, oil, vinegar, sugar, almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large mason jar. Do not add the Chinese noodles!! Place lid securely on and shake to blend. Set aside.
Wash and dry the lettuce. Remove the core and chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces (or slightly smaller). Place chopped lettuce into a bag or covered bowl in the refrigerator until ready to use.
When ready, place lettuce into serving bowl, give mason jar a good shake and pour dressing over the lettuce, add the can of rice noodles, and toss to combine.

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