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Auntie Carol's Marinated Veggie Salad

4th of July celebration with my family at least 10 years ago.
Auntie Carol is the lovely one with her head tilted back
...enjoying the moment with her beautiful laugh.
This week my family bid a sad farewell to a great dear Auntie Carol.  I'm not sure why we always called her "Auntie" Carol?  We don't associate the prefix 'Auntie' with any one else in my family?  It has a nice ring.  Maybe it's the addition of that second syllable.  I'm not sure the real reason; but it sounds special, just like the dear lady who wore the name. 
My Auntie Carol was my mom's youngest sister.  I will always remember her to be the vibrant sister; the one who dared to live her life to the fullest.  Vibrant and happy with a contagious laugh.  And stylish...always stylish.  She was the cool aunt; the one we kids loved to spend time with. 
And need I mention...she was a master in the kitchen. (I'm telling you, it's in the genes!)  Auntie Carol married into an Italian family at a young age and that is where her culinary skills dominated.  Meatballs to die for!  Marinara that I will never be able to master.  Given some olive oil, vinegar and garlic, she would skillfully throw together a salad that would put shame to any Olive Garden rendition!   (Olive Garden..ugh; we call that the fast food of Italian cuisine....sorry)
Auntie Carol would lay out a table of food for our family that I will always, always remember.  I am now thankful for having had her share some of her treasured recipes with me.  My favorite of course, her meatballs made with three different types of meat...lean hamburg, sausage and veal.  Large sauced up meatballs with spaghetti noodles, crunchy Italian bread and a salad bursting with garlicky goodness.  Oh, and don't forget a nice glass of red wine...and perhaps a breath mint for later.  :D

Auntie Carol was a culinary goddess and a true gem of a gal.   I feel as I have entered into this 'middle age' era of my life, I find myself bidding a sad farewell much too often to those in the generation before me.  Precious memories are what remain.  Make sure the memories that you leave behind are warm and dear to is our gift to those that follow. (Good recipes are always appreciated too! :D)
Here is another favorite recipe of Auntie Carol's that we have enjoyed for years.  I know my brother occasionally prepares this special veggie mixture for his catering audience.  It is something different (and colorful) to bring to the table.  The longer it marinates in the fridge, the happier it gets.  I even prepared this for my Rick when he was consuming mountains of veggies during his cancer journey.  Raw, nutrient-dense veggies, along with those ever treasured Italian ingredients...vinegar and garlic!

Auntie Carol's Marinated Veggie Salad...buon appetitio!
( exact measurements on this part.  Prepare according to your crowd size and your own personal tastes.)
Mix together:
cauliflower florets
broccoli florets
sliced carrots or both
pepperoncini peppers
thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 large garlic clove; pressed
ground black pepper to taste

 1. In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients.  In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. 

2. Pour the dressing mixture over the vegetables, tossing gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with a slotted spoon.

**Because I am a food freak (no...let's call it creative), I strategically layered the veggies in a clear glass container.  I layered them tightly, so that I could flip the container over every once in a while to let the veggies get all happy with the marinade.   



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