Delightful Pear Salad

(my version from the former Butterfly Garden)

We Louisvillians have made special efforts over the years to gather friends and head to The Butterfly Garden Restaurant. Originally it was on Bardstown Road. Then they added a lovely-in-every-way Tea Room inside Dolfinger’s. This was a double whammy to your wallet should you linger and shop before or after lunch in Dolfinger’s! (Many brides register here. Their gift selection is top notch.)

My friends and I celebrated many birthdays and any other reason to have lunch with the gals at The Butterfly Garden. Sadly, they’ve closed, but…good news is they published two cookbooks, both of which are in my possession, with about every other page earmarked, even if you’re in the “has-no-business-in-the-kitchen” category.

Given the opportunity, I know author Emily Williams and I could be big buds because of the way she prefaces her cookbook, “I am not a chef and have not been to cooking school.” She tells us she learned everything from watching and listening to her mother. She also credits Nancy Royce, who was the original “Madam Butterfly”, who stayed on with her for over a month to help her cook and remake countless recipes. This was in 2004, when Emily bought the business.

The recipe for this salad is one of many favorites. I like it because it has pears vs. apples. You could certainly use apples tho’. While the ingredients are minimal, there’s something about the combination of the vinaigrette with the pears, pecans, cheese and lettuce that makes for the perfect match. (If you’re not a gorgonzola fan, substitute what you like.)

For the Salad:
4 cups of spring greens (I usually throw in some baby spinach as well.)
1 ripe pear (Emily recommends Bartlett or Anjou), quartered and sliced into thin strips
4 Tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
8 Tablespoons toasted and sugared pecans (I skip this little part of the recipe and just buy something similar off the shelf at the grocery store, but the Butterfly Garden’s version has a fascinating spice: five spice powder, which can be found in most Asian food sections. They recommend making the pecans in a saucepan over medium heat with 3 Tablespoons BUTTER, melted, adding 2 cups of chopped pecans. Then sprinkle 3 Tablespoons of sugar over the pecans, stirring to combine. Toast the pecans in the saucepan for 15-20 more minutes, stirring occasionally, reducing the heat to low. Makes 2 cups of pecans and they will keep in an air-tight container for 1 week. Great to munch on!)

For the Vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 ¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons honey
1 cup olive oil


  • To make the dressing, combine all ingredients and blend in a blender. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • To assemble the salad, place 1 cup spring greens on 4 salad plates.
  • Place about 4-5 pear strips onto each plate.
  • Top each plate with 1 tablespoon Gorgonzola and 2 tablespoons toasted and sugared pecans.
  • Spoon about 2 tablespoons dressing over each salad.

This makes 4 salads and 2 cups of the honey-dijon vinaigrette. Refrigerate the remaining dressing and it’ll keep for up to 10 days. The bonus of this recipe is you’ll have leftover dressing and pecans to quickly whip up another salad when you’re ready.


Delish and Easy Spring Salad

(from Diane Carter)

The year John Jr. started Middle School at a new school, the first friend he made was TC Carter. They became best buds. TC’s first invitation to have John Jr. over, made all of our days much smoother.

TC’s Mom, Diane, and I’ve become close friends over the years. Diane is another one of my friends who entertains for two, twenty, or two hundred with ease. Every time she and Terry have John and me over, she feeds us until we can’t eat another bite. Then she’ll whip out one of her chocolate desserts, like souffles or something equally tasty right out of the oven, suddenly causing us to quickly forget how full we were. No way can you say “no” to her desserts.

2 bags spring mix salad (how easy is this?)
Sea salt bagel crisps, crumbled into pieces
Blue cheese crumbles (1/2 cup or more)
2 or more (your preference) Granny Smith apples, cut into cubes
Sugared pecan pieces (1/2 cup or more)

½ cup sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup oil
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon paprika


  • Spread the lettuce out onto a platter.
  • Sprinkle all the toppings on the lettuce.
  • Shake the dressing ingredients together well and then drizzle over the lettuce.



Funeral Fruit Salad

(from Val Ducas)

My Blessings on Burlington Bible (B on B) study group has one gal in it who we pray will answer a lot of questions every week. We simply love to hear her talk. She’s from the western most city of Kentucky, near Tennessee, called Hickman. Her name is Val. Her one-syllable words have two or more, and her two to three syllable words, well, there’s just no tellin’. She’s sweet and hilarious all at once.

Each Fall and Spring when we dismiss either for Christmas or Summer, we have a Grand Finale Brunch. We each bring a dish and each meal is unique, usually landing us with some new, fun and delicious recipes to try.

Val brought this fruit salad to one of our brunches and I fell in love with it. I asked her what it was and she very matter of factly said, “Funeral Fruit Salad.”

I said, “And why, pray tell, is it called that?”

To which she replied, “Because I always take it to the funeral home when someone dies.” Of course she does.

I’ve made this dish for our family and for some friends and they all rave over it. I s’pose I should change the name tho’….

Check this out:

1 can peach pie filling
2 cans of mandarin oranges, drained
1 can of diced pineapple, drained
1 package of frozen strawberries (thawed and drained)
Slice a couple of bananas at the last minute.
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice.


  • Mix these ingredients in a large bowl and place in the frig.
  • Serve when you’re ready!



Grilled Romaine Lettuce with “Drizzle”

(Cousin to Caesar Salad)
(from my better half and his hunting buddies)

This salad is just enough different from a regular Caesar to cause your friends to want the recipe. If you’re having couples over, the guys get a kick out of watching your grilling chef throw lettuce onto the grill.

We’ve experimented enough to learn you cannot leave the lettuce on for long, or it’ll wilt with no hope of redeeming its’ dreadfully drooping appearance. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll start to crave it.

To think that actual duck hunters, including my husband, who rise at five in the morning, don waders and get into freezing water, usually having to break the ice, came up with this recipe, one wonders how these guys could think rationally by evening time. Whether foolish or merely passionate about hunting, we’re grateful for the discovery.

They’ve dubbed the dressing “Drizzle”. Your friends will love you for this one too.

¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
½ cup of vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 hearts of romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise
10 slices of crusty French bread
3 ounces of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved


  • Light a grill.
  • In a blender or mini-food processor (I have a neat little gadget I found at Williams Sonoma which makes whipping up homemade salad dressing a snap. It’s simply called a “Salad Dressing Mixer”.), blend the mayonnaise with the vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce.
  • With the machine on, gradually add the ½ cup of the vegetable oil until the Caesar dressing, a/k/a “Drizzle” is creamy.
  • Season with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate.
  • Lightly brush the hearts of romaine with one tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill over moderately high heat, turning once or twice, until lightly charred but still crisp, about three minutes.
  • Lightly brush the bread with the remaining one tablespoon of oil. Grill, turning once, until toasted, about two minutes. (You can also skip this and just use store-bought croutons.)
  • Spread half of the Caesar dressing on a large platter.
  • Arrange the grilled hearts of romaine on top and brush with the remaining dressing.
  • Garnish with the cheese shavings and serve the grilled bread alongside of the salad.


Jackson Salad

(from Yours Truly)

This recipe hails from my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. I discovered it in a delightful cookbook, Creating a Stir in the Bluegrass and Beyond, making my own version of it over the years. Everyone who partakes becomes a fan. My friend Dor and I get to where we crave it. Often.

I like serving it on a big, oval platter because it looks so pretty. The mixture for the top of the lettuce can be made ahead and is delicious by itself as a snack. An odd snack at that, but who ever said what constitutes a snack?

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and finely diced
1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, drained and finely diced
¼ cup finely chopped green onions (You know by now I skip onions.)
1/2-3/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon (You may want to add more once it’s assembled)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 ounce of fresh lemon juice
3 ounces of vegetable oil
4 ounces of crumbled blue cheese (I double this because we love blue cheese in this house.)
1 bunch, each, of red leaf and green leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Cherry tomatoes for garnish


  • Combine the finely diced artichokes, hearts of palm, green onions, parsley, bacon, garlic, lemon juice, oil, blue cheese, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. (This is what I said makes a fun treat to nibble on.)
  • Spread out the lettuce on a platter. Get bowl of ingredients that’s been marinating out and pour on top of the lettuce, spreading it out from the center to within an inch or two of the edge.
  • Garnish with cherry tomatoes around the edge.
  • This makes 6-8 large servings.


Spinach Salad with Honey Vinaigrette from the Bluebird Café in Stanford, Kentucky

(from Chef Bill Hawkins)

Another road trip The Butter Babes took after their escapades at The Castle was a lovely drive over to Stanford, Kentucky. A writer friend we’d only met via email, Angela Correll, invited us to lunch at her restaurant, The Bluebird Café.

Once inside the restaurant, Angela motioned for us to sit down. She and Fay locked eyes, simultaneously saying, “Didn’t you go to Georgetown College?”

Our six degrees of separation diminished that day while our waistlines expanded, thanks to the delicious food we inhaled at The Bluebird Cafe. Angela and the Butter Babes had many “What? You, too?” conversations. We immediately declared her to be an ancillary member.

Not only did we have a fabulous time together talking, eating, and of course, laughing, we also enjoyed shopping in Angela’s store across the street from the restaurant, Kentucky Soaps and Such, taking home several treasures including her amazing goat’s milk body cream.

Her chef has graciously offered us the recipe for his delicious Spinach Salad:

Honey Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. local honey
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Vanilla Almonds:
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 oz. Slivered Almonds

Salad Ingredients:
3 oz. Spinach
2 oz. Goat Cheese
2 oz. Strawberries


  • Sautee the almonds and vanilla extract on medium high heat until toasted golden. Pour onto another surface and spread out to cool.
  • Mix the Dijon mustard, honey, and apple cider vinegar together. While continuing to whisk those ingredients, add in the olive oil slowly until emulsified. (Eesh! Had to look that word up…just means to mix liquids together. Me no speak chef talk.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • Rinse and slice the strawberries. Rinse the spinach and put in a bowl. Gently toss the strawberries, spinach and desired amount of honey vinaigrette. Top with goat cheese.
  • Amounts shown for salad ingredients are individual portions, so multiply as needed.