Recipe Box: Cooking Lentils, Herring Salad and More Holiday Foods

Holiday foods include cooking lentils for a good-luck New Year’s meal, while herring salad is among traditional Christmas foods.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Pickles add a tasty tang to Lentil Sloppy Joes.

Photo By Lori Dunn

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Traditional holiday foods vary from culture to culture and from family to family, and those foods can range from lentils to herring. Many cultures think legumes — including lentils — are the best choice for a New Year’s Day meal. Because lentils are shaped like small coins, many consider them to be good luck, bringing good fortune and wealth to those who consume them at the start of the year.

The Italians prepare a dish with lentils and sausages to celebrate the New Year, and in Hungary, soup is the preferred good-luck dish.

Recipes for lentils appeal to pretty much everyone, either in a soup, stew or casserole, and we hope you find one to your liking here in Recipe Box.

Herring, on the other hand, is a traditional Christmas dish for Scandinavian, Russian, German and Polish families, and is most frequently prepared in a salad with potatoes, beets, pickles and often apples. Depending on your heritage, the herring is fresh, salted, pickled, or preserved in a wine sauce. The fish also is considered good luck when eaten at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, bringing a year of bounty to those who partake.

We’d like to know what you serve for your traditional holiday meals. Are there special dishes you serve only at the holidays? Special recipes handed down through the generations? Or perhaps a new recipe that your family now insists on enjoying at any and every holiday? Email, and we’ll see if we can publish your favorites in a future issue of GRIT magazine.


Lentil Sloppy Joes Recipe
Mexican Lentil Casserole Recipe
Lentils and Sausage Recipe
Pork and Lentils Recipe
Lentil Soup Recipe With Chopped Spinach


Betsey Leale, Mineral, Virginia, hopes to find a recipe for herring salad. Her husband’s family used to make it as an appetizer for Christmas. She knows the lost recipe contains herring, beets, and either pickles or pickle relish.

Swedish Herring Salad Recipe
Russian Herring Salad Recipe
Simple Herring Salad Recipe
German Herring Salad Recipe
Holiday Salad Recipe From Poland
Christmas Eve Salad Recipe


Vicki Sarske, Nebraska City, Nebraska, hopes to find a recipe that was popular in magazines a few years ago. It was found on labels for Baker’s Coconut.

Ugly Duckling Cake Recipe
Ugly Duckling Pudding Cake Recipe


• Cora Bash, Stuart, Iowa, has lost a recipe for Cherry Mash Candy Bars. The center fondant was made with cherry flavoring, not chips. The recipe also includes ground nuts and chocolate chips, which were mixed together to form the bottom and top crusts, with the fondant in the center. It was cut into bars.

• Armyllis Isom, Bedford, Indiana, is looking for a lost recipe called Chicken & Mushroom Risotto.

• Bonnie Elliott, Belleville, Kansas, hopes someone has the Lemon Meringue Pie recipe that was printed on the back of the Argo Corn Starch box. She calls it foolproof, and she would love to have the recipe again.

• Verna Coyle, Poynette, Wisconsin, is looking for a recipe for an old-fashioned tamale pie.

• Elizabeth Goodman, North English, Iowa, lost a recipe for Rhubarb Bars. She says the recipe included a mixture of oatmeal and other ingredients. Half was spread in the pan, followed by a layer of raw rhubarb, possibly mixed with sugar. The rest of the oatmeal mixture went on top of the rhubarb. She says it was a bar cookie.

If you’ve been looking for a long-lost recipe, or can provide one, please send an email to, or write to Recipe Box, c/o Grit and CAPPER’s, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Email is our preferred method of communication, and requests and submissions are more likely to be answered in a timely fashion if sent electronically. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number on any correspondence. Recipes cannot be returned; we will forward the first 10 recipes to the person who made the original request, and then file the rest for possible online or print publication. Addresses are not printed to allow us the opportunity to publish recipes before sending them on to the requesting party.