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 60’s 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 three things that our family depends on being present every year (besides the family): pork, garlic bread, and Aunt Ruby’s garlic salad. Other than that, there’s always a huge amount of food but we don’t care what it is as long as those three 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 OK, and people who had never had the original loved it, I have to say Aunt Ruby’s is MUCH better!
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
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 head of cabbage
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 pint (2 cups) Hellman’s real mayonnaise
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 drops liquid garlic*
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. Alternatively, you can shred everything using your food processor, then remove it to a bowl to place the blade attachment in the bowl, and process everything until in small pieces. Transfer to a cheese cloth or paper-towel lined colander/sieve, then squeeze out as much liquid as you can. 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. **Update: I started making it with Howard’s Garlic Juice, at Ruby’s son’s suggestion, which I did find near the spices. It works really well and gives the same flavor, but isn’t as strong and takes 1/2 teaspoon or more to get a good garlic flavor. This is also the way her son makes it, with the garlic juice – she taught him and he took over the garlic salad making several years ago.
Veronica’s Garlic Salad
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!