Spicy Italian Salad (with Grass Fed Summer Sausage)

I thought it was gone forever.  The sour, spicy bite of the Italian salad discovered long ago for a special Christmas dinner.

Spicy Italian Salad

Of course everyone has given things up.  The diet Coke (does it count if I indulge after an especially tough ballet class?), the second scoop of ice cream, the Spicy Italian Salad—no wait, isn’t salad healthy?

But this was decked with summer sausage.  Have you ever tried to find organic grass fed summer sausage, much less local?

Then I discovered Waseda Farms in Bailey’s Harbor, WI.

Formerly a Catholic retreat, farmer Tom Lutsey purchased the farm after beginning a second career raising grass-fed cattle on loaned land.  Since this land hadn’t been treated with pesticides, he began work right away on the organic certification.  Last summer I had the treat of a personal tour of the farm.

Youngsters at Waseda Farm

Tom and I headed out to the back fields where the cattle were grazing–or more accurately shading themselves under a stand of trees in the summer heat.  As we entered the grazing land, he carefully reset the electric fence, looking toward the herd, “they always know where an open gate is.”

As a long term grass-fed beef devotee, I didn’t need to be convinced about the health benefits.  But I learned a lot about their concerns about animal stress, something they took seriously enough to bring in Temple Grandin (of the HBO film) to build their animal handling system.

Temple Grandin Handling System - Waseda Farms

The farm includes a store that can readily accommodate the transitional organic eater who may be looking for individual cuts.  And they have some interesting specialty products for true believers who would never touch certain (e.g. summer sausage, hot dogs) conventional beef products… and therefore haven’t prepared a well-loved salad in over a decade.  And voila(!), a delightful salad was reborn.

Waseda Farms Summer Sausage--Mmmmm

Ready for a taste?  Here is the recipe (edited from the original from Better Homes & Gardens):

Spicy Italian Salad



  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c red wine vinegar
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1/2 t dry mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced


  • 6 c lettuce torn in bite sized pieces
  • 8 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 c summer sausage, sliced and quartered
  • 1/4 c sliced black olives
  • 2 T grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Combine dressing ingredients in a container with a lid.  Cover and shake until well blended.

2.  In a large bowl, toss lettuce with dressing.  Arrange remaining ingredients on top.

3.  Serve and enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Spicy Italian Salad (with Grass Fed Summer Sausage)

  1. Louise

    It may not be a healthy salad, Inger but it sure sounds good! What an interesting way to spend a day. My Amish friend Katie has slowly been adding “beef stock” on her farm. The learning factor involved with the caring and feeding of grass fed beef is more complicated than it sounds.

    Thanks for sharing…

    1. Inger Wilkerson

      You know with the sausage being grass-fed and organic (and not huge quantities of it), I actually consider this salad healthy again! Interestingly, regarding your friend, one of the comments that Tom made was that he considers himself a grass farmer, because the health of his herd is so dependent on the quality of his fields.

  2. Pingback: Artisan Beer Cheese Fondue « Art of Natural Living

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