i don't know if you and i have ever truly sat down and discussed the elephant that fills up the entirety of the upper midwest: there are no vegetables in salad. salads here contain jell-o and mayonnaise and sweets of all sorts (whatever, yes, grapes), but unless you specify a vegetable salad, there's a very good chance that asking a true midwesterner to bring a salad to the potluck will mean making more room for dessert.
the salad chapters in the stack of church cookbooks sitting beside me are my favorite. oddly they're where you'd expect a salad chapter to be, right after the appetizers and before the mains, but ingredients like miniature marshmallows, cool whip, and cream cheese make regular appearances. after experiencing a few long winters here, the best reason i can think of for not using vegetables would be limited access to fresh ones. but why marshmallows? why cookies? do you know why? this all sometimes feels like a never-ending punchline where the joke is actually on me because in the end, i get to eat salad and have my cookies too.
out of all of my new midwestern food friends, cookie salad might be the one that i've had the most fun with. a typical cookie salad is fudge striped cookies, vanilla pudding, buttermilk, cool whip, and mandarin oranges or bananas. you can find a recipe for that here. but when you start making substitutions and taking liberties like a millennial, you realize that a cookie salad is not so different from an eton mess or perhaps a breakfast parfait.
i have an eton mess inspired version of a cookie salad in the latest issue of saveur along with a little story that i really want to show you! i had so much fun with it. i haven't seen it yet because magazines just take longer to get here, but perhaps if you're near a newsstand, you could pick one up??
and then here is another version of a cookie salad. it's a slightly healthier take, as the cream and pudding get swapped out for yogurt, but it feels right for both breakfast and dessert. you can use plain yogurt, as i usually do, especially if it's for breakfast, or you can use any flavored variety that you'd like. it's also embarrassingly easy. are you ready?
strawberry and peanut butter cookie salad
for each serving you will need:
a big plop of yogurt
a handful or two of peanut butter cookie crumbs (i used this recipe)
fresh sliced strawberries
and, yes, sprinkles
stir all of the ingredients together in a bowl and serve immediately or the next day (it's actually really good the next day when the cookies have absorbed some of the yogurt!) or layer them artfully in individual dishes and let your guests toss their own salads.