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
Here's a perfect summer recipe from Linda Schwab-Edmundson, Shokan, New York. A distinctive dressing of cilantro, cumin and lime is refreshing over crisp lettuce and tender chicken. Toss in cherry tomatoes, if you'd like, for color.
"The recipe for this beautiful blend came from a local berry farm some years ago," notes Linda Jo Wahlgren of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. "We like to take the sweet and savory salad on picnics to accompany cold chicken and a loaf of crusty bread."
My father always liked this salad, so I shared this recipe with my mom. When she first made it for Dad, he enjoyed it so much he told here to be sure to share the recipe with me. I laughed because he didn't know that I had given the recipe to Mom in the first place. I knew he'd like it.—Judy Long, Limestone, Tennessee
People love this fruity gelatin ring that gets extra flavor from an ambrosia-like mixture in the center. I've been bringing it to potlucks, buffets and showers for 20 years. While it looks like you fussed, it's easy to make the night before a special occasion.
-Janice Steinmetz, Somers, Connecticut
Guests always request the recipe for this fabulous spinach salad. Tossed with ripe banana chunks, fresh strawberries and toasted almonds, it looks and tastes special enough for company. The tangy poppy seed dressing is a snap to combine in the blender.
-Callie Berger, Diamond Springs, California
I've never found a better potato salad recipe than this one handed down from my grandma. Like many grandmothers, mine cooked with a dash of this and a dash of that, so I estimated the measurements on this recipe. Feel free to change them according to taste, just like Grandma did!
-Susan Plocher, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
My husband and I helped prepare this summery salad for a weekend retreat. The recipe served 60 to 80 people, so I modified it to use at home. The sweet-tart dressing is wonderful over romaine with toasted almonds and fresh raspberries.
-Jennifer Long, St. Peters, Missouri
"I like to take advantage of gelatin mixes and pie fillings to make colorful salads that can be prepared the day before you need them," remarks Chris Rentmeister from Ripon, Wisconsin. "These fruity squares are great for everyday suppers yet special enough for company."
While "bread salad" may sound unusual, you'll find that this blend from Joan Gwynn of Watsonville, California is unusually good. A simple dressing jazzes up a medley of bread cubes, tomatoes, basil and red onion.
Finish things off with a bang with this colorful gelatin garnished with a chorus of fresh grapes. Chock-full of mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple, it's so refreshing that guests won't be able to refrain from seconds.