Take a shortcut: these store-bought salads are better than you can make at home anyway

This Take-Three Tuesday we tried deli salads recommended to us by our Facebook group as being great deli salads available at local grocery stores.   To get a cross section of tasters, we brought six deli salads to a campground and did a blind tasting with ten campers.   The salads were all purchased the day before.   One salad was the clear favorite.   Two others were liked by all.

One salad we purchased at O &H we took out of consideration because (a) we didn’t think this was the same salad as the page member recommended and (2)  the salad didn’t taste fresh after a day.    That left us we five salads: two from Festival Foods, two from Tenuta’s and one from Danny’s Meats.   These three were our favorites.

Sombrero Salad, Festival Foods, regular price $4.99 lb.

Festival Sombrero Salad

Festival Foods strong point is their deli section.  Their prices for other staples may be higher than pick-n-save but their salad, hot food, dip, cold dessert selection is phenomenal.

The Sombrero Salad was enjoyed by all of our tasters.  Black olives, shredded cheddar, rotini and a dressing that reminded me of a thin Catalina dressing with a touch of taco seasoning.   A solid salad-its not going to set the world on fire with its exotic ingredients-but its a crowd-pleaser.

Tortellini Salad, Tenuta’s Deli, 3203 52nd Street, Kenosha, reg. price $4.99 lb.

Tenutas Tortellini Salad

The ingredients in Tenuta’s tortellini salad were about as good as you can get.  First the cheese tortellini was soft but not too soft.   The large chunks of salami were not too spicy and surprisingly tender.   The chunks of cheese were also quite generous. The price, $4.99 a pound, is very reasonable given the high quality ingredients.   The only change may be to add a little Italian dressing to it when you serve it a second day as the pasta had absorbed much of it.   This may be why someone suggested that you purchase Tenuta’s Olive Salad and then mix the two together — going to have to try this.

And everyone’s favorite salad was,

Spinach Pine Nut Salad, Festival Foods, regular price $6.49 lb.

Festival Spinach Pine Nut Salad

Everyone agreed that this was a great salad.   Pretty simple actually, spinach, Parmesan shreds, pine nuts, bow-tie pasta and a dressing.  It was well dressed, not dry at all.   The spinach was not soggy even after a day in the fridge.   This was the most expensive salad of the three but its understandable; have you seen the price of pine nuts?   For those of you that haven’t tried pine nuts, it is a soft nut that doesn’t have a strong flavor and adds that perfect texture to this salad.   Even people that weren’t fans of cooked spinach and never have heard of pine nuts liked this salad.  Pine nuts are also called Pignolia nuts and here is a link as to how they are harvested.  Pine Nut Harvest

The other two we tried were Tenuta’s Supper Salad (kind of plain and under-dressed) and Danny’s Meats Jalapeno Potato Salad (too spicy and too many crunchy vegetables for most of us).

Its hot and there is sooo many things to fill your time in Wisconsin during the summer.   Cut some of the hassle by picking up one of these salads for your next party.


Results of our SE Wisconsin Potato Salad Taste Test

You say potato, I also say potato…because that’s how it’s pronounced.

We had a lot of great suggestions for potato salad – some traditional, some non-traditional.  So, we bought four traditional and four non-traditional potato salads and invited our friends over for a night of taste-testing (blind) that I’m sure they’ll be talking about for years to come.  We made SURE that the potato salad was room temperature before any tasting for peak flavor.  Also, all of the salads were purchased the day of the taste test.

Potato salad eater 2      Potato Salad eater


Traditional Potato Salads were up first (numbered one-four for identification, not ranking):

First four

1 – “Our Own” Potato Salad from Festival Foods, Racine $2.88/lb (Sale $1.88)

Festival foods our own potato salad

Of the traditionals, this was voted the favorite by majority.  So good in fact, that even after all the potato salad eating on Saturday, husbands were requesting more of this one on Sunday.  If you do not like crunchy things in your potato salad, this is the one for you.  Comments included: “Creamy,” “Smooth,” “Balanced,” and “Potatoes are very tender”

2- “American Potato Salad” from Mac’s Deli, 2302 52nd Street, Kenosha $3.70/lb

American Potato Salad Macs Deli

This one didn’t rate very well with our group.  Comments included: “Bland,” “Sour cream texture makes it seem curdled, dry,” “Not a lot of flavor”

3- Mustard Potato Salad from Meijer, Kenosha $4.99/3 lb tub

Mustard Potato Salad Meijer

For a pre-packaged product (say that 3 times fast), this was better than I was expecting and was generally liked by the group.   Comments included: “Good, pickley flavor,” “Good texture,” and “Kind of bitter”

4- “Dawn’s Potato Salad” from Piggly Wiggly, Washington Ave, Racine $2.09/lb

Dawns Potato Salad Piggly Wiggly

Piggly Wiggly offers this salad made by a company called Dawn’s Foods in Portage.  This seemed to hit right down the middle of the road, however nobody was overly excited by Dawn’s.   Comments include: “Too much mustard,” “Simple and sweet,”, “Good, but bland,” and “Creamy, but bland”

Now. on to the non-traditional potato salad:

Second half potato salads

5- “Loaded, Smashed Potato Salad” from Meijer, Kenosha $3.99/lb

Meijer Loaded smash baked potato

People either really liked how similar this was to mashed potatoes, or didn’t care for the texture.  No complaints about the flavor though.  Comments included: “Good overall taste,” “Liked the creamy texture,” “Potatoes too mashed,” “Very bacon-y,” and “Good, lots of bacon flavor”

6- “Steakhouse Potato Salad” from Pick ‘n Save, Caledonia $5.25/lb

Pick N Save Steak house Baked Potato

For what it’s worth, I’m not really a big potato salad eater, but this one was definitely my favorite. The majority seemed to agree that this the winner of the non-traditionals.  Comments include: “Bacon-y and cheesey, really good,” “Yummy. Love the cheese,” “Delish! Bacon!”

7- “Loaded Steakhouse” from Mac’s Deli, Kenosha $4.29/lb

Mac's  Deli baked potato salad

I really wanted this to be good. I really did. But I was let down.   It just wasn’t “loaded.”   Comments include: “Too vinegar-y,” “Sour tasting,” “Weird flavor,” and “Boring”

8- Bacon Bleu Potato Salad from Gooseberries, Burlington $5.99 lb.

Gooseberries Bacon Bleu Potato Salad

A few of our taste-testers were not the biggest fans of bleu/gorgonzola cheese but the ones that liked the cheese, seemed to like the salad. Comments include: “Too strong,” “Different. Oily, not creamy, but good,” and “Not a fan of the cheese,” and “Could have used some salt and pepper, but great taste and texture”

In summary. Festival Foods “Our Own” was the traditional winner and Pick ‘n Save Steakhouse was the nontraditional winner.   If you have vegetable haters in your family, give the Festival Foods version a try; no vegetables or crunch.   Tip: one of our members suggested heating up the Pick ‘n Save Steakhouse Salad to make it even more delicious.