Lovina Eicher’s long awaited solo cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry has finally launched from Herald Press (April 18). As the editor, I’m not sure who is more relieved. I’m thrilled that it turned out so beautifully and I’m sure Lovina is happy that it is done! (Lovina is co-author of three popular previous cookbooks you can easily find on Amazon.)
You expect to find caramel pecan sticky buns, shoofly pie and homemade bread in an Amish cookbook. But Lovina loves to garden and has learned to enjoy the extra nutritional goodness of a salad like spinach salad, packed with lots of vitamin A. When spinach is served fresh in a salad, it is, arguably, one of the most nutritional foods on earth. It has good amounts of vitamin K, A, and C as well as magnesium, iron, copper, vitamins B2, B6, E, and calcium and potassium. It is also a very good source of dietary fiber. (The only cautions I found regarding fresh spinach are for those prone to kidney stones, which spinach can aggravate, or, vitamin K1 may be a problem for people taking blood thinning medications, according to “Authority Nutrition” website.)
If you grew up in the 50s or 60s and were forced to swallow lunchroom spinach that had been cooked to a limp, dark green pulp, you have good reason to dislike the taste. You may have marveled at the old Pop-Eye cartoon character who frequently scarfed down an entire can of spinach because it was so healthy for his muscles. Even Lovina admits to being a latecomer to liking spinach, like many of us. Of her Spinach Salad recipe in The Essential Amish Cookbook, she says: “If you are looking for a change in salads, try this. I used to dislike the taste of spinach, but now that I’m older I have learned to like it.”
When my husband sampled this salad with Lovina’s delicious dressing (kind of like reddish Russian), he announced with robust pleasure, “It is GOOD!” He’s not usually quite that expressive about my new recipe efforts. The dressing can also make a good dipping sauce for other veggies or indulgences like chicken nuggets. I halved both of these recipes for just my husband and me. I also subbed in fresh garden radishes instead of celery (since I had radishes on hand), and still had leftover hard-cooked eggs from Easter! I also left out the mushrooms, which we didn’t miss. But don’t leave out the green onions and bacon: to us, they make this salad! And if you’re not acquainted with Amish columnist Lovina Eicher, follow her at www.lovinasamishkitchen.com
10 ounces fresh spinach, torn into pieces
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1 cup ketchup
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, mushrooms, bacon, celery, cheese, eggs, and green onions.
In another bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Drizzle the amount of dressing you prefer over salad; toss. Serve immediately.
If you have extra dressing, it can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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Melodie M. Davis is the author of nine books, most recently, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime (Herald Press, 2010). She writes the syndicated column, Another Way, serves as a managing editor for Herald Press, and is also editor of a local family publication, Valley Living. She keeps a blog where she features frequent recipes from her home, family and church life. She is married and the mother of three adult daughters and four grandsons.