Southern Lost Salads

Suggestions for a conscious diet: the lost salads of the South

With rapidly rising temperatures, preparing a hearty dinner is losing its appeal. Something cold seems right, but giving up the substance might not be what you have in mind either. I started thinking about southern salads and the difference between that tradition and leafy greens served with croutons. I think they are partly due to the lingering southern heat in the evenings and the love of desserts, breads and stews. For some reason, us Southerners love to mix a whole bunch of foods together in one dish. Casserole is a special kind of comfort food, and we can never have too much of it at a family gathering. We do the same thing with salads: the more we put, the better. And everything is allowed.

Incorporating two mainstays of the Southern diet – chicken and rice – this salad is an example of delicious home cooking that grew out of the need to use every morsel of food. Starting in the 1920s, rice salads also went in a sweet direction, but this recipe keeps things light and flavorful, pairing basmati rice with vegetables and roast chicken. The herbs and lemon dressing give it bright colors and a fresh taste.

Chicken and rice salad with herbs


* 2 cups of basmati rice
* ½ cup lightly packed fresh, tender herbs (such as dill, parsley, and chives), plus more for garnish
* ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
* ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
* 2 tablespoons chopped shallot (from 1 small shallot)
* ½ tablespoon of Dijon mustard
* 2 teaspoons of honey
* ½ teaspoon kosher salt
* ¼ teaspoon black pepper
* 2?½ cups shredded roast chicken breast (from 1 chicken)
* 2 cups multicolored cherry tomatoes cut in half (from 1 [12-oz.] pkg.)
* 1?¼ cups (¼ inch) Persian cucumbers or mini cucumbers sliced ​​diagonally (about 3 cucumbers)
* 1 cup sliced ​​almonds, toasted
* 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
* ½ cup (¼ inch) sliced ​​celery (from a large stalk of celery)
* ¼ cup coarsely chopped celery leaves
* ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Cook rice according to package directions; transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender; blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Add chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, almonds, feta, celery, chopped celery leaves and parsley to bowl with cooled rice; drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Transfer to a large serving platter or bowl and garnish with additional herbs.

This smoked bacon and black-eyed pea salad combines rich, fatty bacon with crunchy vegetables. The Dijon dressing adds a nice acidity to the mix.
To save time, you can substitute the equivalent amount of canned black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed for frozen. No cooking required. Vegetarians coming for dinner? Skip the bacon.
Black-eyed pea salad

1 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of molasses
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen black-eyed peas
6 slices bacon, preferably thick and applewood smoked, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
To make dressing: In medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, molasses, salt and pepper. Whisk olive oil until smooth and emulsified.

To make the salad: In a large pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the black-eyed peas and return to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender but hold their shape, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and let cool completely.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled and cooked peas with the bacon, onion, bell pepper, parsley, green onions, celery and jalapeño. Pour the dressing over the salad mixture and toss to coat well. The salad can be served immediately, at room temperature or chilled.

Southern Potato Salad
What makes this a “southern” potato salad is the addition of hard-boiled eggs, sweet pickles (not dill), and yellow mustard. Bacon is optional.
* 5 lbs potatoes (low starch potatoes such as red, white or new are best)
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 medium bell pepper, diced
* 4 chopped hard-boiled eggs
* 1 cup Duke mayonnaise
* ¼ cup sweet pickles, diced
* 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
* 1 teaspoon of sugar
* ½ teaspoon of salt
* ¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Wash, peel and cut the potatoes into cubes.
2. Place potatoes in salted boiling water, boil until tender. About 10 mins. Taste – be careful not to overcook.
3. Drain the potatoes and let them cool under cold running water for a few minutes. Place in a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Dice the bell pepper.
5. Dice the onion.
6. Finely chop the boiled eggs.
7. Chop the sweet pickles.
8. Add pepper, onion, eggs, pickles.
9. Add mustard, sugar, salt, black pepper and mayonnaise.
10. Mix everything gently until the potatoes are coated.
11. Taste, add more salt and pepper as desired.
12. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving for best flavor.

About Michelle Anderson

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