Marilynne Huston of Naples loves salads — not only to make, but to eat and to enjoy watching her friends devour her latest creations. Her friends are so impressed with her chopping skills that they created a cookbook of the salads for one of her birthdays. She celebrated another birthday in September, and her husband took her to the Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek, Colo. She ordered a salad with peach dressing and can't wait to try to recreate the dressing when she gets home.
Here is what Huston has to say about eating green:
Naples Daily News: How did you get interested in making salads?
Marilynne Huston: I got interested in making salads when we were living in the Midwest. I was the only girlfriend in my group who had a pool. During the summers, my friends would gather around the pool with their children for the day. They always brought snacks and lunch for the kids, but the moms? That first summer I started making a variety of pasta salads for our lunch from others recipes, until of course the next year when I was much wiser about carbs and started making more bathing suit-friendly salads. A few years later, the girls created a salad cookbook of their favorites for my birthday along with a faux mink apron!
NDN: Where do you get the ideas for the names of the salads you invent yourself?
MH: It's funny how I get the names. Often it relates to the ingredients, other times I comes from the group I make the salad for, i.e., Bible Salad, for the girls in my Bible study, Book Club Salad, Girls Nite Salad, etc.
NDN: Is there one salad that really stands out, and is it your go-to-one or do you keep rotating?
MH: I do rotate my salads as my husband eats them about three nights a week! Marilynne's Oriental Salad and Pacific Rim Pork Salads are real standouts and everyone loves them so I take them more often when I am asked to bring a salad somewhere.
NDN: Where do you get your ideas for your salads?
MH: My ideas for salads are frequently my take on some I have eaten in restaurants, such as the kale and sweet potato salad I just had in Breckenridge. I will work at it until I get it to please my palate. Other times, I combine the things I like from two or three different published recipes.
It's really fun to experiment with dressings, as there are thousands of things to add to vinegar and oil to make an outstanding dressing.
There is a specialty shop here in Breckenridge where I purchased mango and blueberry balsamic vinegars, along with some basil olive oil. We'll see what comes of this purchase!
NDN: How many salads do you have in your recipe file?
MH: My recipe file is full of scraps of paper that are either just ideas or combos that come to me and I jot them down. Later, I pick them up and try to implement them in something new and different. I get recipes from the Internet, friends and some pilfered from my mom and aunt.
I haven't bought a cookbook in years. I never use a recipe from print or someone else without some tweaking. I know my tastes and what I like so I adapt to fit my likes. For example, I might see a salad using chicken, but I will use salmon and alter the dressing to go with fish.
NDN: Do you order a salad when you eat out?
MH: Even when we are at a fine-dining restaurant on a Saturday night with friends, when ordering, my girlfriends will look at me and ask, "What salad are you getting?" So, yes, eight out of 10 times I order a salad when we are eating out.
NDN: Where do you buy your produce for your salads?
MH: As faithful as I am to my husband and friends, I am a tramp when it comes to where I buy my produce; no loyalty. I find, though, I can only get yellow beets at Fresh Market. I don't insist on organic, and, yes, I buy the bagged lettuce from Dole.
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PACIFIC RIM PORK SALAD
1/3 cup water
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ cup soy sauce
4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
3 cloves minced garlic
1½pound boneless pork loin roast
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
6 cups baby leaf spinach
6 cups romaine lettuce, torn in bite-size pieces
6 thin red onion, slices separated into rings
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 pounds plums, pitted and sliced (3 cups)
Optional: You may choose to add one red pepper thinly sliced and/or one can of water chestnuts, sliced and halved.
1 In a small mixing bowl, combine water, sherry, soy sauce, ginger root and garlic for pork marinade.
2 Reserve five tablespoons of marinade for the dressing.
3 Place pork in a plastic bag, set in a large bowl and pour remaining marinade over the meat. Close bag and refrigerate overnight, or at least eight hours.
4 Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
5 Drain pork discarding marinade and roast meat for 25 minutes.
1 Combine the reserved marinade, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and salad oil in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2 Stir in sesame oil and remove from heat.
3 Slice pork in bite-size strips and combine meat, spinach, lettuce, onion slices, plum slices and sesame seed in a large bowl.
4 Pour hot dressing over mixture and toss gently to coat.
5 Serve on salad plates with a crusty whole grain baguette sliced and pinot grigio.