Mixed Citrus Green Salad and a Trip to Birmingham

I’m ending my OCD recipe contest rant by highlighting my biggest prize and honor—my first and only cook-off, Cooking Light’s “Ultimate Reader’s Contest,” 2009.

I entered twenty-six recipes, everything from Chipotle Chicken Salad to Healthier Hoppin’ John.

I was totally unprepared with what the editors picked:    Mixed Citrus Green Salad.

A salad?   How the heck was I suppose to win a cook-off with a salad?

Nonetheless, I started practicing and timing the recipe.

Cooking Light would be flying me to Birmingham with the other contestants.    Strangely enough, I wasn’t nervous during the cook-off.   I thought that I didn’t have a chance in Hades so it was relatively stress free.

We all got to tour the Cooking Light kitchens, see the magazine’s headquarters, meet the editor, and have dinner with the judges.

Mixed Citrus Green Salad
Finalist for Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest—trip to Alabama.

¼ c. canola oil
2 T. champagne vinegar
½ c. orange juice
pinch of salt
¼ c. honey
1 t. poppy seeds
1 bag prepared spring mix
1 cup red globe grapes, seedless
1 (11 oz) can Del Monte Mandarin Oranges, drained
1 (8 oz.) Del Monte Fruit Naturals® Pineapple Chunks, drained
1 (8 oz.) Del Monte Fruit Naturals® Red Grapefruit
1 c. toasted walnuts

Place oil, vinegar, orange juice and salt in a blender.  While blender is running, pour in honey in top of blender cap.  Add poppy seeds and pulse once.  Place spring mix in salad bowl.  Cut grapes in half and add to salad.  Add oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit to salad and carefully toss.  Sprinkle walnuts on top.  Drizzle dressing over salad.  Serve.

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It wasn’t until I was making this for dinner that I realized I had not bought any grapes. Doh! It was really great with just citrus, though.

This lettuce is not from a bag but from our own garden (under the hoop house).

As you can guess, Del Monte was one of the sponsors for this contest.    The Naturals line is good, but fresh is better.   Simply use fresh pineapple, clementines, and supreme a grapefruit.

Can I just say that I met people who were more OCD about cooking contests than me at this event?   Seriously, there were some professional contest people here competing.   One had made the the cut for that elusive “Best Burger” contest.    Others were pretty smug and secretive.     Most were just regular people like me and were there for fun.

The staff of Cooking Light was beyond awesome.   Everyone was so kind and welcoming.   Having dinner with the editor was the highlight of the trip.       I won’t dis anyone, but one of the judges was very “full of herself” and even tried to hit on The Hubs after a few glasses of wine (not mentioning any names here  🙂  ).

For more of our Birmingham adventures, click here.

Postscript:   This dressing is also pretty good on a raw shredded beet salad.

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