The first Poinsettia Salads I made looked beautiful, nestled on their beds of lettuce. I took pictures, and then we ate the salads. And then, because of my blind trust in my devices, I lost all the pictures I hadn’t backed up. And my lovely salad pictures were among them.
My second stab at Poinsettia Salad incorporated a few changes that I think are improvements, because to be honest, looks aren’t everything, and Bettina’s version was a little lacking, in my opinion. And let me be honest, I didn’t peel the tomatoes either time. Pure laziness on my part!
Bettina uses cream cheese and chili sauce to make the centers of the flowers, and I found that a little bland. The second time around, I grated some sharp cheddar in with the cream cheese and used a wooden pestle to cream it into the cream cheese as smoothly as I could. Then I added salt, pepper, a pinch of paprika, and the tiniest smidge of dry mustard. Cheddar and tomato are one of my favourite flavour combinations, and it was good. Other than the cheese ball, I didn’t really make any changes other than leaving out the green pepper (both times I made it…. green pepper is something I can’t stand!) and there is no lettuce under my most recent salad. I’d just given the last of the head of lettuce in the fridge to the bunny that morning, and the garden lettuce isn’t quite big enough to eat yet.
The recipe is really easy to scale down, or, I’m assuming, up. The first time I made it, I made 2 salads, the second time, just one, and both times it worked out just fine. Both versions were quite nice, but I really think my changes made it better. The nice thing about this sort of recipe is that it’s easy to use as a jumping off point – you could easily change up the cheese ball to suit your preferences, or experiment with new combinations.
The salads were quite nice to look at, and we both agreed that they tasted good, but they are sit down, knife and fork salads. He wanted to eat his while multi-tasking, and due to the tomato being almost whole, it was a challenge. If I was making it for a fancy dinner or luncheon, I’d make it this way again, but I think chopping the tomato into bite sized pieces would certainly make it more convenient.
My opinion – it’s a pretty salad, with a nice presentation, and the flavour is fine. Not outstanding, but perfectly fine. I’d make it again in tomato season, if I had a reason to make fancy salads, but I’m not in a hurry to make it again just for the sake of making it again.
His opinion – kind of a pain in the butt to eat, but tasty enough for a vegetable. He liked the french dressing.
Bettina’s Poinsettia Salad (Six portions)
Six pieces lettuce
Six red tomatoes
One-half cup cream cheese
One level tablespoon chili sauce
One and one-half level teaspoons salt
One-half level teaspoon paprika
Six thin strips green pepper
Arrange the lettuce on serving plates. Wash and peel the tomatoes and cut in eighths toward the center but do not sever the sections. Arrange flower fashion on the lettuce. Mix the cream cheese until soft. Add the chili sauce. Place a mound of this cheese mixture in the centers of each salad. sprinkle the salt and pepper over the tops. Add a strip of green pepper to each prepared salad to represent a stem. Serve with Pimiento French Dressing.
For the French Dressing, I just used her basic recipe as pimientos are something I don’t think I’ve ever had in the house. I made a half recipe, which I’ve now used on three salads, and I have enough left for a few more uses.
French Dressing (six portions)
Two level teaspoons salt
Two level teaspoons sugar
One teaspoon powdered mustard
One-half teaspoon paprika
One-third cup lemon juice or vinegar
Two-thirds cup salad oil
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly, add the lemon juice or vinegar, and the salad oil, and shake vigorously for three minutes in a small jar with a tightly adjusted lid. Serve very cold on salads.
Bettina’s Best Salads and What to Serve with Them was written by Helen Cowles LeCron and Louise Bennett Weaver, and beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth Colborne. It was published in 1923.