Red Hot Salad Style

Fairfield Citizen-News 08/10/2007

Have you considered your "salad style" lately? Suzanne Herlihy surely has.

This mother of three, a flutist with the New Haven Civic Orchestra and pediatric physical therapist is a "Red Hot Mama." No kidding.

Wish-Bone®, the salad dressing company, was not kidding when it selected Herlihy of Churchill Road, as the co-winner, beating out 1,000 entries in a consumer contest conducted in conjunction with the second annual Wish-Bone® Summer Salad Fashion Show. The salad dressing company invited consumers to submit a recipe using one of its Salad Spritzer products to reflect their salad style.

Herlihy, now 54, recalled her thoughts turning 50 and submitted a brief essay, along with her "Red Hot Mama' recipe. She wrote: "I approached my 50th birthday kicking and screaming all the way. I'm not a fanatic but I try to live a healthy lifestyle. This salad has ingredients to help keep the Aging Monster at bay. Salmon to protect the heart; cheese to prevent brittle bones; the pepper and spinach are full of anti-oxidants to fight cancers; carrots to help me read all the fine print; and soy nuts to chase away those nasty hot flashes."

Approximately 15 of the top winning entries, including that of Herlihy's co-winner, Michaella Rosenthal of Woodland Hills, Calif., who won with her Cucumber and Pear Carpaccio recipe, were turned into a fashion outfit created by leading fashion designers and modeled during the Wish-Bone® Summer Salad Fashion Show, hosted by Tim Gunn of the popular "Project Runway" reality show, at Grand Central Station in May. Herlihy and Rosenthal, each with a guest, won trips to New York that included three days at a hotel, sightseeing and shopping.

"I like New York and it was really fun to stay for three days," said Herlihy, who also received a $500 American Express gift card, an additional $250 for a spending spree, plus a $35 Metro card. As her guest, she invited her sister, Nanci Jenkins, who flew in from Michigan. Jenkins, who Herlihy described as "quite a cook," was responsible for her sister entering the contest. Jenkins, who enters a lot of recipe contests, had also entered her own salad dressing recipe.

All recipes had to include real fruit and/or vegetables. Herlihy's winning recipe was created into an outfit by Broadway costume designer Chris March, who fashioned a salmon-colored one-shoulder satin handkerchief dress, draped with a string of carrots. As she paraded down the runway, the model wore a soy nut choker around her neck and red pepper bracelets. Her head was dressed in a salmon-colored turban with an actual grill of meat propped on top.

"I just laughed,' said Herlihy, when she saw her recipe walking the runway. "It was amazing to see this lady with the salmon on her head."

In his inscription to his book "A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style," written with Kate Moloney, Gunn wrote to Herlihy: "You are delicious. Thank you for making it work!"

The fashion show was titled "Puttin' on the Spritz," a tribute to the Salad Spritzers incorporated into the recipes. Herlihy selected the Wish-Bone® Balsamic Breeze Spritzer. Herlihy believes she won for her message of living healthy by eating well.

Cooking is one of Herlihy's hobbies. She enjoys cooking healthy meals for her family, which includes Lauren, a Vassar graduate who is now at Yale as a research assistant in autism; Brendon, 20, who is studying architecture at Penn State; Rosie, 17, who is entering her senior year at Fairfield Warde High School; and her husband, John, director of water quality and environmental material at Aquarion.

Herlihy combines her homemaking responsibilities with her duties working for the Kennedy Center as a pediatric physical therapist. She finds her work with children from birth to 3 years of age very rewarding. In addition, for the past 33 years she has been as flutist with the New Haven Civic Orchestra.

Will she enter another recipe contest?

"Yes, definitely," Herlihy said. "I'm keeping my eye out for them You never know; I'm might win again."

Suaznne Herlihy's Winning Recipe
"Red Hot Mama"
1 Serving
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook time: 15 Minutes
2 cups washed baby spinach leaves
½ cup diced red peppers
½ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup soy nuts
4-10 sprays Wish-Bone® Salad Spritzer Balsamic Breeze Vinaigrette dressing
3 ounces grilled salmon
On a dinner plate arrange spinach, then red peppers, carrots, cheese and nuts. Just before serving, spritz with Wish-Bone® Salad Spritzers Balsamic Breeze (Herlihy suggests grilling salmon 5 to 10 minutes until done).