Saturday, November 20, 2010

Railroad Diner Car Tossed Salad

In the days when railroad travel was king, diner cars served some stylish food.  There are not many diner cars operating in today's age, like there was during the grand old days of railroad travel.  My grandfather, who was a chef in the 1930's through the 1960's, made this railroad diner car salad for us a few times.  He described this salad as "classy railroad people food!"
     The only place that I have seen this salad for sale in recent years was at the "Plaza Casino" in Las Vegas.  The "Plaza Casino" was formerly named "The Union Plaza".  The Union Plaza was the train station in Las Vegas for many years and the Union Pacific Railroad had its passenger hub there.  Buffalo Bill's private rail cars are on display at the casino too. 
     The simple American food theme in The Plaza Casino included some of the classic railroad cuisine of a lost era.  My favorite Plaza Casino food was the great, old fashioned, fried chicken and of course this salad. 
     By the way, those are not cherry tomatoes in this salad.  They are Maraschino Cherries!  If you can picture a tiny railroad dining car kitchen, with very little storage space, then this salad fits on the diner car menu.
     Recipe:  Coarsely chop about 4 handfuls of romaine lettuce and place it in a mixing bowl. 
     Add  a handful each these sliced vegetables: cucumbers, onions, green onions, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, tomatoes, celery and carrots. 
     Add a handful of maraschino cherries that have the stems removed. 
     Place 2 dollops of mayonnaise into a small mixing bowl.
     Add a small splash of apple cider vinegar.
     Add a small splash of cream.
     Add a pinch of onion powder.
     Add a pinch of garlic powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add a dash of maraschino cherry juice.  (About 3 teaspoonfuls is enough.)
     Mix the ingredients together. 
     The dressing should be thin and creamy with a hint of cherry flavor. 
     Pour the dressing over the salad in the mixing bowl. 
     Toss the salad thoroughly. 
     Place the tossed salad on a plate with a few of the maraschino cherries placed visibly on top.
     This is a cool and refreshing salad with a flavor that appeals to young and old.  The sweet maraschino flavor is a welcome surprise to a weary traveler.  Creamy and deliciously old fashioned!  I like this simple railroad salad as a summer treat.  Now where is my old fashioned fried chicken?  LOL  ...  Shawna

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