One of my childhood friends moved to Italy 20 years ago. During a recent visit to see her, I enjoyed a scrumptious salad made with tortellini and fresh vegetables. I fell in love with the dish and have been trying to recreate ever since. How'd I do? —Kelly Mapes, Fort Collins, Colorado
I used to care for an elderly woman who loved artichokes, so I created this salad especially for her. Not only is it convenient to make with bottled Italian dressing, but you can dress it up with salad shrimp, too.—Melissa Mosness, Loveland, Colorado
Reduced-fat Italian salad dressing is the minute-saving marinade in Dorothy Acker's cold vegetable medley. "I've made this easy salad for the past 40 years and it's still a family favorite," says the Fort Wayne, Indiana reader. You can also use fresh green beans instead of frozen.
A pleasant alternative to pasta salad, this colorful side dish gives barley, cubed ham and a medley of vegetables. "Every time I make it for a crowd, I bring copes of the recipe," says Sheryl Hershberger of Donalds, South Carolina. "As a busy wife and mom of four, I like the fact that it can be made ahead of time.
Served warm, this satisfying salad combines pasta, chicken, lettuce, mandarin oranges and romaine and is tossed with a slightly tart dressing. From Coos Bay, Oregon, Diane Conrad comments, "My daughter-in-law gave me a basic dressing recipe, and I adapted it to suit our tastes."
I'm always looking for ways to spice up salads. This one is a cross between two of our favorites. I usually make a double batch of the dressing and use leftovers for dipping bread.
-Amber Kimmich of Powhatan, Virginia
In Henry, Illinois, Dennis Reed creates this green salad with scallops, asparagus, bacon and walnuts. The recipe calls for prepared vinaigrette, but Dennis often fixes a homemade version with walnut oil and balsamic vinegar.