When I was a little girl, I went out to restaurants often with my parents. It wasn’t too much trouble to take the kids with them, because I was it. And how I loved to share an evening with my parents practicing my best manners and getting to chose from a menu. Those experiences didn’t continue on into my teenage years for two reasons. One, the Air Force sent my dad to tiny little towns so the pickings were beyond slim and two, my brothers were born, so going out was a totally different experience.
I married into a restaurant going family, however, so the excitement of going someplace new and trying foods that I normally wouldn’t make myself continued. I spent the first eighteen years of my married life within an hour of my in-laws, so every birthday and other big event was shared with them, usually at a steak house of some sort. We all had our favorite things to order. My mother-in-law invariably chose steak, well done with a baked potato. My father-in-law would opt for prime rib or barbecued ribs. He was fun to watch. Ever meticulous with his food, he would set out as many plates as he could manage around his place because he did not want his food to touch. Then, slowly and methodically, he would eat his dinner. Long after the rest of us were done, he would still be cutting his meat and enjoying each and every bite.
We lost my father-in-law to a heart attack in 2004. Ironically, it was just after he had finished eating a dinner of ribs and potatoes. It was sudden, it was shocking and it was painful for the family, especially my mother-in-law. Now, looking back, there were signs. His memory wasn’t what it had been. He got winded sooner when doing chores. He took longer to accomplish mental tasks. What we took for common signs of aging, may in fact have been signs of heart failure. Today, I am bringing you a salad from my youth. When we lived in St. Louis, Rich & Charlie’s was one of our favorite places to visit. It was a pasta house, known for delicious food. I did an internet search and found that it is still open and doing well. The food is still well reviewed and the salad is still delicious. My mom got the recipe for this salad while we lived there and began making it at home right away. When I make it for my family, there are rarely leftovers. It is a simple, yet tasty salad. I love it for the memories as much as for the taste.
I used grape seed oil for its reported good cholesterol raising properties. I left out the traditional pimentos because my kids don’t care for them, but I am putting them in the recipe below.
- 2 heads lettuce, romaine and red, washed and drained
- 1 large can pitted black olives
- 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 small jar pimentos, drained
- 1 small red onion, cut into rings
- ⅓ cup grape seed oil
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
- In a small jar or bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
- Place salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Toss with dressing.
- Let sit 30 minutes in the fridge, covered with a damp towel.
- Serve wilted.