You Bring The Salad

The pot-luck bowl comes back empty when a local cookbook author chops up bok choy

Last August, serendipity. I needed a dish at 7 a.m. sharp for the Teacher Appreciation Breakfast, and on a mad dash to the Kroger, not only were Simply Potatoes hash browns on sale, they had a recipe for breakfast casserole right on the label. I tweaked it, cutting the sausage, adding thyme, and had a modest hit—by which I mean I heard later both casseroles had been eaten. So I stuck with that dish, through a graduation brunch, a holiday weekend, a maternity leave provision. And for this year's Teacher Appreciation breakfast, I was proud to serve it again, but with added chopped fresh tomato and basil. How's that for variety?

On Cherie Kimmons 1-100 scale, probably about a one. Kimmons is a local food and humor writer of long-standing, and her Pot Luck Survival Guide: Care & Feeding of the Athletic Supporter was published this month. She does say, "Something that I cook all the time is what I take to a pot luck. I know how it behaves and that it won¹t embarrass me." But her book has more than 100 of the kinds of recipes—and thousands of those helpful little tips. like substituting tortilla chips for tortillas in King Ranch Casserole—that keep a pot-luck cook popular. You can just tell she never resorts to bringing Andes mints or an uncut seedless watermelon to group festivities (somewhere, one of my South Knoxville friends is smirking).

The cookbook itself is a pot-luck effort; Kimmons asked every great cook she knew—some with kids at Webb or Farragut High School—for their very best recipes, and got 'em. One of the handful Kimmons deems "Hall of Fame," Bok Choy Salad, comes from Linda Deaver, who Kimmons met at her part-time gig at Chico's at the mall. "This one is different from most ramen noodle salads," she says. "The bok choy is so velvety, and the slightly sweet topping with the noodles and almonds—I would eat anything cooked in that."

The recipe can be doubled or quadrupled, though I tried it halved and that worked, too. It was tasty and crunchy and I'm already planning to bring it to the Labor Day cookout at Kathy's, and maybe a tailgate. Think it would work for a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast?

Bok Choy Salad

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 3-oz. packages of ramen noodles (crushed while still in the package, remove seasoning packet)
  • 1 bunch bok choy, green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 8 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Spray a skillet with non-stick spray. Melt the stick of butter and add the sugar. Stir until it dissolves.

2. Add the almonds, sesame seeds and ramen noodles. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until everything is well-coated with the butter—the noodles can burn easily. Remove from heat when golden, about 10 minutes.

3. Cool and store topping until ready to toss.

4. Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake to mix well.

5. When ready to serve, toss together bok choy, onions, and noodle mixture in large bowl, saving some of the noodle mixture for a garnish. Add dressing a little at a time until the bok choy is well coated. Toss thoroughly.

Condensed from Potluck Survival Guide (Five Star Publications) by Cherie Kimmons.