Marinated vegetables usually remind me of mushrooms dripping with oil, plus already-soggy white bread on the side. Yet a 1980s recipe from the Richmond Times-Dispatch tempted me because in the past month, I’ve eaten enough crudités to feel like Peter Rabbit. This Marinated Vegetable salad, sent in 30 years ago by former Times-Dispatch food editor Jann Malone, comes from Great Ideas for Barbecues & Summer Meals (Family Circle, 1983), the same book where I found the candied tomato recipe from my friend’s mother. Though the recipe goes back at least 30 years (the dressing comes Malone’s father, so it probably goes back farther than that), it managed to update my ideas about marinated salads.
The practice of flavoring and preserving vegetables in vinegar goes back to ancient Greece and Rome, according to kitchenproject.com. Early Virginians, including Thomas Jefferson, also ate pickles. Interestingly, a whisked-together combination of oil and vinegar did not become known as “French” dressing until around 1900. But now many American restaurants call it vinaigrette. Times change, but not the basic concept of the dressing.
The marinated salad recipe would work well with almost any kind of late summer vegetables (except tomatoes, which would get too mushy). The veggies turn out crisp-tender instead of soggy. Pick, steam, marinate. Just give yourself several hours to let everything chill before serving.
Marinated Vegetable Salad with Ralph’s French Dressing (1983)
For the dressing:
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3-4 drops Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup oil
Combine all dry ingredients in a salad dressing container or small glass jar. Add the vinegar and shake well. Add the oil and shake well. Chill before using. Makes about 1 cup
For the salad:
1 large green pepper [I used a yellow bell pepper]
2 small yellow squash
5 green onions
1 cup cauliflower flowerets
1 cup broccoli flowerets
1 cup 1-inch cut green beans
1 cup sliced mushrooms
- Seed the pepper and slice into thin strips. Slice the carrots and squash into thin rounds. Thinly slice the green onions, using both the white and green parts.
- Lightly steam all the vegetables except the onions and mushrooms for no more than 3-4 minutes. Dump the vegetables into a colander and run cold water over them to halt the cooking process.
- Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl or jar and pour the dressing (from recipe above) over them. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain before serving. The salad looks nice and travels well in a large glass jar.