Cooks Exchange

Salads can lighten up any festive event

Special events and observances happen this week and well into May and June.

Saturday marks the 145th Kentucky Derby. While some dash off to the Derby, others host parties to watch the event on television.

May 5 is Cinco de Mayo. This special day features foods of Mexico and, of course, pitchers of margaritas.

For some teachers, Teacher Appreciation happens this week, while most celebrate May 6-11. My granddaughter’s school celebrates April 29-May 3.

Ditch the candy and sweets. Try healthy salads done with different flavors and in different ways.

All are great times to lighten up. For Derby Day, a salad lunch would be great paired with the traditional mint julep. Or perhaps a mimosa or iced tea with a sprig of mint.

Most folks think of Mexican food as heavy such as enchiladas or tamales, but Mexican recipes featuring shrimp or fish are so tasty and light. A salad for Cinco de Mayo doesn’t have to be the ordinary taco salad. What about a light shrimp tostada?

For teacher appreciation, why not get some fellow parents together and do a salad lunch for teachers. Or if you want to go it alone, how about a Mason jar salad with a pretty ribbon.

I offer three recipes today. All a home chef needs to do is select which one fits the event.

Bone broth recipes wanted

I’ve been reading your column for around 10 years in the winter months and wish it was year-round,” said Marilyn Blandford of Brockport, N.Y. “We winter in Bradenton, Fla., and take the Bradenton Herald and look forward each week to the cooking and health columns. Yours is a real favorite.

“Not sure how long ago you discussed bone broth. One woman told about making it when her children were small and gave an easy way to do it. I cut the article out, but between Bradenton and up North I somehow lost it. I think it was in the paper in winter of 2018,” said Blandford, whose family lived in Ocean Springs from 1959 until 1962. “Our first two children were born at Keesler hospital.”

Readers, I am checking my files for the bone broth recipes, but if anyone clipped these recipes, please send them to me. My files are overflowing.

Figs are on the way

Lynette Faul of Gulfport, Mississippi, says figs are beginning to appear on her trees.

“These are tiny little ones, and will be a while until they are ready,” she said.


Clean jars with lid (around 24 ounces)

Layer 1: Your favorite dressing

Layer 2: Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, asparagus, celery peppers, carrots (whatever you like)

Layer 3: Mushrooms, zucchini, beans lentils, peas, corn, broccoli (whatever you like)

Layer 4: Boiled eggs and cheese (feta, gouda, Cheddar, etc.)

Layer 5: Rice, pasta, quinoa or couscous

Laker 6: Nuts and greens such as lettuce, spinach or arugula

Get all ingredients ready, meaning cut, peel, wash the veggies/fruits. Boil the pasta, quinoa or rice.

Prepare the dressing.

Once everything is laid out, put all the ingredients according to the layers in the jar. Then lid on top and off they go into the fridge. As easy as that.

Dressing suggestion:


(enough for 2 jars)

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup to make it vegan

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon

2-3 tablespoons water

A pinch or two of chopped or grated ginger (dried is fine)

Whisk ingredients together. Pour into the bottom of 2 jars.


Cooking spray

1 corn tortilla

Black beans, rinsed and drained

6-8 shrimp tail removed and deveined

Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Dash of cumin to taste

Dash of oregano to taste

Dash of paprika to taste

Dash of garlic powder to taste

Avocado, diced

Grape tomatoes, sliced

Green onions, sliced

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Coat a corn tortilla with cooking spray on both sides and place it into the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown. Heat the leftover drained and rinsed black beans seasoned with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, garlic powder and cumin to taste, in microwave for 30 seconds or until warm.

Place the skillet coated with cooking spray back on the stove over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and season with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder to taste. Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip the shrimp and cook for another 1-2 minute or until done. Remove from heat.

Layer the tostada shell with sour cream, black beans, cooked shrimp, avocado, tomatoes, green onions and cilantro. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

— Recipe by Pam Nelson of



For the salad:

6 packed cups baby spinach

2 Mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned

3/4 cup raspberries

1/2 cup blackberries

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup walnuts

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh Mandarin orange juice

1 tablespoon honey

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until well combined. Taste and adjust the dressing to your preference. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients, then drizzle the desired amount of vinaigrette on top. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes: If you are planning to have leftovers, keep the salad separate from the vinaigrette and cover both in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Re-whisk the vinaigrette and drizzle just before serving. Calories: 225.

— From

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.