I used to work with a fun and feisty woman, Diana, who was a terrific cook. My office mates and I would always lick our chops and surround her like saber tooth tigers when she arrived at the office bearing some home cooked treat, like her almond-scented Danish Puff, or her homemade candies. Diana was also one of the organizers of a monthly theme lunch in the main conference room which some of us would cook for and all of us would attend (we sold lunch tickets for $3 as I recall), with the year's total donated to a local nonprofit that provided needy area families with clothes and gifts for kids at the holidays. We would "adopt" a family and get the list of what items were needed and then we'd shop and bring the presents to our December lunch for a group wrap-up. Great food for a great cause and it was all so much fun.
There were never any leftovers with Diana's contributions to these monthly lunches; the bowls were scraped clean, the crockpots scoured, the tins of cookies reduced to a meager crumb or two. One of the great recipes that she shared was for Copper Pennies, a carrot and pepper salad that was bathed in a sweet and tangy tomato dressing.
I made this salad a long time ago according to Diana's recipe and it was awesome. However when I took it out the other day, I wanted to tailor it to my family's updated cooking and eating habits.
First to go was the can of tomato soup called for in the recipe. While there are probably gluten-free canned tomato soups out there, I don't want to have to read three crowded paragraphs of ingredients and frankly, I am spoiled by the taste of my own homegrown, homemade tomato sauces and soups, so I substituted tomato sauce or puree. I also slashed the amount of sugar called for in Diana's recipe by 2/3 and did a little other seasoning adjustment. The result? Still as tasty as I remember and still a winning salad dish. I think Diana would approve.
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins (a food processor works great for this)
3 green bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin slivers
1/2 Bermuda onion, sliced thin and separated
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce (check to make sure it's wheat-free)
1 cup tomato puree or sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. prepared mustard
Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a soup pot. Cook carrots until tender, but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
Mix together oil, vinegar, soy sauce, tomato puree, brown sugar and mustard.
Layer carrots, onions and peppers in 2 quart serving dish (looks lovely in a clear glass bowl). Pour sauce over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours to marry flavors.
This recipe keeps very well, so you can make it several days ahead of any big feast, like Thanksgving.
When your salad veggies are gone, use the remaining marinade as the basis for a Catalina style homemade salad dressing.
Allergy Mom over at The Allergic Kid is rounding up recipes in her Thanks for "Nothing" Thanksgiving that are gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-friendly, and the Copper Pennies cover all the bases. Be sure to check back with her blog for more recipes to share at your holiday feasts that would be safe for everyone to enjoy.