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Garlic Salad

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The Davis Family (back row, left to right): Donnie, Doris, Jimmy, Mary, Ruby; (bottom row, left to right): Margie, Alta, Jon, Jim, Nadene. My Dad's the little squirt who surprised them all when he happened upon the scene.

There is a restaurant called Doc’s Steakhouse in Wichita that is famous for its garlic salad. As far as I can tell, this is a Wichita thing that you can’t find elsewhere but let me know if you’ve heard of it in your neck of the woods.

I’ve actually never had it at the steakhouse, but my Aunt Ruby got ahold of a copycat recipe and started bringing it to the annual Davis family reunion (that’s my Dad’s side of the family) back in the early nineties and we love it so much the only way she’s ever going to get out of not bringing it is if she dies. Our annual reunion is a pig roast and there are only four things that our family depends on being present every year (besides the family): pork, garlic bread, Aunt Ruby’s garlic salad and Mildred’s chicken noodles. Other than that, there’s always a huge amount of food but we don’t care what it is as long as those four things are on the table.

Part of the food line

Aunt Ruby kindly shared the recipe with me several years ago; I rediscovered it when I was organizing my recipe binder and figured it was about time I made it! I first made it for a mother’s day celebration picnic my husband’s family has every year, then made it for a potluck lunch our friends had after Church the following week and both times I got lots of compliments and recipe requests. I think it is perfect for this time of year when barbecues and potluck picnics abound.

Below are two versions of the recipe, the original and my adaptation of it that doesn’t call for anything strange, doesn’t waste half a head of cabbage, has more color, and is easier to make. While my version is good and people who had never had the original loved it, I have to say I like Aunt Ruby’s better, but that may be for sentimental reasons and not the taste alone.  After all, I’ve been eating it one way for more than half my life and I equate that taste with all the happy memories of being with family.

Mine has a more pronounced garlic flavor and hers is more mild.  I’ll leave it up to you which one you want to try but either way, I don’t think you can go wrong. It’s good stuff.

Aunt Ruby’s Copycat Garlic Salad
Printable Recipe

1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 head of cabbage
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 pint Hellman’s real mayonnaise
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 drops garlic liquid*

Shred the first three ingredients, then put in a blender and fill with water. Blend until they are in small pieces, then strain out in a cheesecloth, squeezing out as much water as possible. Put into a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving.

*Aunt Ruby says you can find this in the spice section at your supermarket, but I checked three or four before giving up.  It is available online here.

Veronica’s Garlic Salad
Printable Recipe

1 head of lettuce
1 head of cabbage
2 carrots, peeled
2 cups real mayonnaise*
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp garlic powder

Roughly chop the first three ingredients. Working in batches, put them in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and process each batch until small pieces. Place finely shredded veggies in a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving.

*For the first batch, I made my own mayonnaise, but used a generic light mayonnaise in the second batch.  Strangely, I liked it better the second time!

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

42 responses »

  1. Carol Langille

    We have something very similar but it’s called Kansas City Garlic Salad….use a whole small head of cabbage, chopped very fine with an onion. You roll it in a thick bath towel and put in fridge overnight to pull out all the moisture. Next day you mix this with a pint of Hellman’s and two teaspoons of garlic powder. This makes almost a dip consistency which you can eat on crackers but we eat it by the spoonful!

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  2. WOW Garlic salad?!! Veronica, you should know that we Koreans are known for our garlic breath…what with all the kimchi we eat…and add garlic salad to our diet, and we’ll be stinking so much we’ll be banned from foreign countries! lol!

    Oh and I’m finally starting to catch up to some blog reading…congrats on your new weight loss blog! Hee, I hope you meet your target!

    And another thing: You were NOT the person to mention that “Hongkies” were a racial slur…please don’t worry about that at all! It was some other commenter by the name of Julie, who didn’t add a link. And I totally would never misunderstand that you meant it in an offending way anyway! :-)

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    • Haha–like my hubby always said, if everyone ate garlic there’d be nothing to complain about. So we just need to convince the non-garlic eaters to start eating it so we can all life in garlic-euphoria! Thanks for reassuring me on the Hongkies thing. It still tickles me that they’re called that.

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  3. Wow, 3 forms of garlic! I’m a garlic lover though, so I’m definitely in. :) I think I’d like to roast the garlic and use that…this salad sounds incredible!

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  4. Miss Brown Eyes

    I’m headed to Wichita next week and had planned on going to Doc’s so stumbling across this post was great news. I’m gonna try the salad (this is the 4th mention of the famous garlic salad I’ve run across — so it must be killer good!)

    I’ll probably have the original and then try your recipes afterwards so I can plan to play with the garlic levels. Thanks Veronica!

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    • Cool–maybe you can let me know how the recipe compares to what you tried. I know it’s nuts but I’ve NEVER eaten at Doc’s. I’ve eaten at Mike’s, which also has a garlic salad, but it’s not as finely chopped. I did think Ruby’s salad tasted identical to it, though. Let me know how it works for you!

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  5. Well V this does look interesting… Already have another version running through my head. Wifey doesn’t care for fully chopped slaws or salads so I might try a basic shred or perhaps a broad rough cut (pieces about a half inch by an inch). She also hates Iceburg so I will probably try Romaine as that is the closest in texture. I think the addition of some firm red bell pepper (or yellow as these are the two sweetest) might work as well and add additional color… maybe cut the green cabbage with Red as well…..Ahhh foodie fun and games for a few days!

    D

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    • Wifey is picky! Lucky she has such a sweet accomodating husband! :) Sounds good, Dewey–let me know how it turns out.

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      • Dewey Benson

        She has her picky moments… not a whole lot of them but those she chooses she is pretty adamant about.

        Won’t let me fry anything at all so when she is out on biz I experiment with hot wings sweet potato nests… stuff like that. LOL!

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  6. Can I join your family? :-P That whole pig looks amazing!

    And like sophia above, I love me some garlic too, so can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks! :-)

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    • You know what’s funny? Even though our family reunion was always called a “Pig Roast,” I somehow remained completely ignorant of the fact that there was pig served at it until I was a teenager. My mom didn’t eat pork and never showed us where the pig was served (separate from the main food tables) so we just never ate it! And now that I know about it, I only take a nibble b/c I don’t really like pork (except for bacon, of course). So sure, you can join us and take my portion! :)

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  7. That looks like something we make. I want to show this to my hubby. How do you do that link to a “printable recipe”? That is a great idea!

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    • Hi Natasha! I use docs.google.com to make printable recipes. The exact process goes like this (you’ll have to create a Google account first if you don’t already have one): click “create new” then “document.” Copy the recipe from your blog to the document, editing the size and font, etc as you wish, then click “save.” Then click “share,” then “publish as web page.” It will take you to a new screen where you can click “publish document” and then a link will pop up. Use that link to create a hyperlink in your blog. Let me know if you need help with creating a hyperlink. Hope this helps!

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  8. The pig roast reminds me of a luau in Maui. How do you know when its cooked through?

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    • I’m not sure but they must use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. It’s a group of men that handles the cooking of the pig and all I know about the process is they inject it with a lot of homemade flavor solution before sticking it on the spit.

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  9. Thanks for the info on making the link. That is very helpful!! About the pig roast; I don’t think I’d be brave enough to cook something like that, but my Ukrainian relatives would sure appreciate something like that.

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  10. Pingback: Garlic Salad - Cooking YOUR Food

  11. Steven C Dickson

    Thank you so much for having this on here.. I’ve been looking for this recipe for years… I have had the Garlic Salad at Doc’s Stake house in Wichita, Kansas before and it is wonderful.. and I’m very excited to make this.. Haven’t had it in years but I love it… Thank you again…..

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    • I think my Aunt Ruby’s version is probably more authentic but I haven’t had the real thing so I wouldn’t know! I hope you enjoy.

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      • Hi I live in Wichita,Kansas and have had the garlic salad from Docs.I happen to know the real receipe from Docs and there is no cabbage or lettuce at all in the receipe.

        3 bunches celery
        1 pint Heilmans mayonaise
        1 tbl garlic salt
        1 tbl garlic powder
        1 small carrot

        finely mince celery and carrot in food prosseser put in cheesecloth and get all the water out.
        Mix mayo,garlic salt,garlic powder and celery and carrot mixture in big mixing bowl stir completely.Put saran wrap or foil over bowl and frigerate over night.Stir next day.
        Put individual salad serving in small bowl with small amount of shredded lettuce on the bottom add garlic salad then sprinkle paprika on top for color.Then Enjoy!!!!

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      • I was just talking to my mother this AM about getting together this spring/summer for a BBQ. She then went on to tell me about going to Doc’s Steakhouse a long time ago (before I was born) and how they had such a wonderful garlic salad. A few years later she was able to get the recipe from someone who worked there. I did a quick search and stumbled upon your blog. The neat thing is the recipe she wrote down almost 40 years ago matched your Aunt Ruby’s to a T! Can’t wait to try this myself. Nice blog! GO SHOCKERS!!!

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  14. Veronica –
    there are gobs of places in Wichita that do Garlic Salad – each a bit different than the other!

    Doc’s Steak house you are already familiar with..

    There was Abe’s Steakhouse, which is where I first tasted it, but they closed up in the 90’s and for a while, his nephew kept the location open as “Uncle Abe’s Steakhouse” or some such but it didn’t last long, maybe a year – and his garlic salad wasn’t quite like the original.

    Spear’s has their own garlic salad, which best I can tell is mostly lettuce, (but I get them all mixed up in my mind!!)… there is only one store left, out west near Towne West mall.

    Leeker’s Grocery Store makes a cabbage garlic slaw for their “to-go” Deli – it’s pretty good but always seems to be more raw like it hadn’t been sitting around long enough for the flavors to marry, or they overcompensated or something… but it’s handy if I’m heading off to a potluck and want to pick up a pound or two of it. They are up in Park City, KS and in Valley Center, KS.

    And of course our World Famous NuWay Burgers – which is also more of a cabbage and lettuce blend, some days better than others. There’s like um, I think 3 locations left now – the original one is on W. Douglas just a few blocks west of Seneca. There’s on on E. Harry, more or less straight south of the St. Joseph Via Christi hospital, maybe a block or so east-ish. There’s one up at Central & Woodlawn. There’s one out west on Central, around Tyler or Ridge Road. Ridge, I think. So I think that’s the only ones left? They have had more – oh wait, well I don’t know if the one on South Seneca is still open or not, down in the Pawnee & Seneca area.

    Soooo each one is a bit different – some add more carrots, others are just strictly shredded cabbage or lettuce (depending) and the garlics.

    Now I don’t know how old your Aunt Ruby is (was), but I’m curious maybe her “Garlic Liquid” might be this Watkin’s Garlic Liquid Spice (http://www.amazon.com/Watkins-01892-Garlic-Liquid-Spice/dp/B006K3CUYK/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1326090830&sr=1-1 ) – Watkins was a door-to-door company through much of its history and many of the women I know of that generation (born 1900-1930’s) would have grown up using Watkins products. And I’d never seen a garlic recipe version using any garlic liquid but it stands to reason. Now whether or not Doc’s or others use it, I’ve no clue (you know they all keep it “top secret” etc.) It’s only been just in the past two or three years that I’ve been seeing some of the Watkins spice products (particularly the dry stuff in tin cans, like cinnamon, pepper, cloves, that sort of thing) on the shelves like at Walmart and some of the grocery stores. They also sell via online website and “consultants” (much like the original door-to-door except you contact them or they have brochures that they mail, or distribute in other ways.). So anyway, that’s a thought.

    I’ve also seen jars of minced garlic packed in a type of oil, maybe in it’s own garlic oil, I’m not sure – need to get a new bottle and check it out. My old one seemed to be getting bad so I pitched the jar a few months ago. Not sure what other brands of liquid garlic might be available in the grocery store.

    So anyway, that’s my thoughts on it now – and happy to see your two versions!!.

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  15. Thank you for posting these recipes! I tried Aunt Ruby’s version and it was Excellent!!!
    It tasted exactly like Doc’s, which I happen to love. I cheated by buying bags of shredded lettuce and Angel Hair shredded cabbage. I used a ratio of 2:1, lettuce to cabbage. I also found Howard’s garlic juice at our local grocer here in Wichita. Just shredded some carrots to add in. Wonderful – can’t wait to try some more of your recipes. Your website makes me hungry!!!

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  16. I love Doc’s garlic salad and decided to do a recipe search (which is how I found this) never imagining that I would find the real one. Thank you soooooooooooooooo much for sharing this. I am anxious to try it. I have searched for it before but never found one that tasted quite the same.

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  18. Marlise McCammon

    Just to let u know I have had the salad at Doc’s when I lived in Wichita. Now live in New Orleans and still have fond memories of the salad. Thanks for the recipes! Marlise McCammon, former Director of Employee Relations at Wichita State University

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  20. Hi Veronica –
    Just thought I’d let you know that Doc’s Steakhouse closed this past Saturday October 25, 2014 at the end of business day. We went there Friday night and all of us ate a bowl of garlic salad. Plus, I bought their triple order “to go” and shared it with the potluck group at church. I’m not sure what John is talking about having only celery and no lettuce and cabbage but all of the garlic salads on our table and what I brought home DEFINITELY had lettuce and cabbage in it. I even posted a note on my facebook page with a photo. I’ve had several asking me for recipes and I posted a copy of your Garlic Salad blog URL on it so you may get other comments.

    http://www.kansas.com/entertainment/restaurants/dining-with-denise-neil/article2150967.html

    (has a recipe) and http://www.kansas.com/entertainment/restaurants/dining-with-denise-neil/article3222951.html
    Julia

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