For most of us, food is about more than just nutrition—it’s also about family and connection. According to one 2022 survey from Bosch, around 64 percent of Americans still like to cook recipes today that their parents or grandparents made for them as children. “Cooking with family members is a memorable activity for homes across the country,” said Cara Acker, Bosch’s senior brand manager at the time. 

In this respect, Reese Witherspoon is just like many other Americans. The A-list actress loves to cook meals that were passed down to her by her beloved grandmother, Dorethea Draper, who she spent a lot of time with as a child. “She picked me up for school every day, helped with my homework, read stories to me (with lots of silly voices), taught me to bake gingerbread cookies and drink tea out of fancy cups for fun,” Witherspoon wrote on Instagram in October 2023. “Everything she did was magical to me.”

Out of all the recipes Draper taught Witherspoon, however, one stood out in particular: a simple, yet delicious, corn salad. The actor originally shared the recipe in 2018 with The Times, and since then, it has been posted far and wide, as people attempt to recreate what has become known as Dorothea’s Corn Salad.

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corn saladKris Osborne

How to make Reese Witherspoon’s grandma’s corn salad

According to Kris Osborne, a recipe developer and writer, Dorothea’s Corn Salad “is very easy to make.” She explains for The Kitchn that it starts with mixing a dressing in a bowl using ingredients like white vinegar, lime juice, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, and finely diced shallots. After that, whisk it with olive oil before setting it aside.

Then, take eight ears of fresh corn and remove the kernels, before placing them in a bowl with chopped cherry tomatoes, sliced green onion, and fresh herbs. Mix it all together, and you’re done.

It sounds easy, and it is. But the key to the best flavor is how you source and treat your ingredients before you cook with them. According to Witherspoon, “Grandmother Dorothea was against two things: picking corn more than a day before you eat it and refrigerating a tomato.”

Osborne agrees. “Those are two rules I follow in my kitchen, as well, because if you’re starting with really good ingredients, you usually end up with really good food,” she wrote.

Fun fact: While you can store tomatoes in the fridge to keep them fresher for longer, storing them at room temperature will ensure you get the best flavor out of them. This is because the cold causes tomato cell walls to break down more quickly than if they were stored at room temperature.

“Try eating a cold tomato and a room-temperature tomato,” Maddy Rotman, head of sustainability at grocery delivery platform Imperfect Foods, told Martha Stewart in 2023. “You’ll see that all the flavor of the tomato is hidden when it’s cold, and you can taste all of the sweetness when it’s ambient.”

VegNews.ReeseWitherspoonReese Witherspoon/Instagram

Reese Witherspoon loves plant-based foods

Witherspoon is by no means vegan. In the past, she has revealed that her favorite Southern food is “probably fried chicken.” She told Vanity Fair once: There’s nothing like hot, spicy fried chicken. I do like some Cholula. I do like some spicy shrimp and grits.”

That said, she also loves plenty of nutritious plant-based foods, too. In fact, she once shared in a video on Instagram that one of her go-to snacks is simply an apple with peanut butter

The actor is also a fan of green smoothies, which she drinks every single morning. According to Witherspoon, she got the idea from her Little Fires Everywhere co-star Kerry Washington. 

“I sat next to Kerry Washington at an awards show and I said to her, ‘Your skin is so beautiful. What do you do?’” she recalled in an Instagram post in 2020. “And she said, ‘Actually, I think it’s from this drink I drink. It’s really changed my skin. It makes my hair and nails really strong.’”

According to Eating Well, Witherspoon is also a fan of foods like lentils, fried okra, summer squash, and crispy Brussels sprouts. “Witherspoon really does work hard to stay in shape with daily workouts, green smoothies and veggie-heavy meals,” the publication noted. 

For more plant-based stories like this, read:
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