The Shopper Kitchen: Community Cookbooks, Spaghetti Salad


By Angela McRae, Special to The Shopper

Shortly after the quarantine began, my friend Tammy McSwain up in Haralson County invited me to join a local Facebook group called “Quarantine Cuisine,” and it has been my guilty pleasure to see what the members are cooking and baking during these days of staying at home.

An early favorite of the group was gravy and biscuits. Then I began to see photos of salmon patties, which my mother used to make. I’d forgotten about those and was surprised to see that younger cooks remain fans of salmon patties.

A few weeks later, my friend Cheryl Thompson in Senoia launched a group called “Recipes for the Housebound,” and once again, I find myself intrigued and inspired by all the delicious recipes. I’ve drooled over one fellow’s smoked brisket, which reminded me of the brisket tacos I had in Austin, Texas, last year. I’ve discovered new bread recipes, “skinny” recipes, comfort food recipes and dessert recipes to satisfy every sweet tooth. I’ve even found some new salad recipes I want to try, and considering the extra baking we’ve all been doing, preparing a healthy salad is probably a good idea.

The New York Times recently ran an article titled “The Community Cookbook is Reborn for a Time of Scarcity and Sharing.” The article noted that today’s online recipe collections have given new life to the idea of the community cookbook, resulting in both friends and strangers finding “new ways to connect from a distance and swap recipes.” As a member of two online recipe groups, I thought that was a great way to think about this recipe sharing, so I’m sharing a favorite this month that I hope will find some new fans in print and online.

When the weather turns warm, I enjoy cold salads. They’re suitable for lunch or, with a roll and a few slices of fruit, even dinner. This Spaghetti Salad is a favorite and comes from the “Cranberry Tea Room Cookbook,” a 1992 book by Richard Martinez of the Cranberry Tea Room then operating in San Bernardino, California.

I love this easy-to-make salad, and you must let it marinate thoroughly to get the best flavor, so don’t make this thirty minutes ahead of serving time. And if someone enjoys this recipe and is still sharing it years from now—hopefully not during a global pandemic—I will be very happy indeed.

Spaghetti Salad

1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions and drained
1 small (2.25-ounce) can of sliced black olives, drained
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 small (4-ounce) can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup radishes, sliced
1 (16-ounce) bottle Italian dressing
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and toss well. Cover and let flavors marinate in the refrigerator for at least 7 hours or overnight. You can also add (or substitute) any leftover vegetables you may have around to vary the flavors. Yields 6-8 servings.

Leave a reply