So, we had another one of our periodic “pot luck” banquets at work the other day. This one was to celebrate our company’s anniversary. At my office, we love to eat. Many folks have their own “specialty dishes” they make time after time.
My specialty is a version of the venerable Seven Layered Salad. I got the original concept from my mom, and over time have put my own spin on it. It’s a great dish for these sorts of get-togethers, because it looks spectacular, it’s easy and quick to make, and it’s light, nutritious and tasty. It’s also excellent for when you’re entertaining at home. You make it a day in advance — an impressive looking and delicious dish that requires pretty much no work the day of the party. Woot! That’s my kind of cooking.
- 1 10-oz package shredded lettuce (you can tear or shred lettuce by hand if you’ve got extra time on your hands)
- 1 10-oz container grape tomatoes, halved or coarsely chopped
- 2 C thin-sliced or finely minced celery (I use a food processor to mince)
- 2 C finely-minced carrots (I start with baby-peeled carrots to save time, and mince in the food processor)
- 8 hard cooked eggs
- 2 C frozen peas, thawed
- 1 C mayonnaise
- 1 C sour cream
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 C Parmesan cheese
- 6-8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled or 1/2 C bacon bits (I use the ones made from real bacon, not those nasty “soy protein” ones)
I recommend a trifle bowl for a really great presentation, but any straight-sided clear container will do.
Layer evenly in the container, in order, the lettuce, tomatoes, celery and carrots.
Now, if you’re in a hurry, you can simply chop the eggs and layer them in next. But if you want to get fancy: slice at least two of the eggs and select eight to ten of the best-looking center slices. Using a large serving spoon with the bowl of the spoon facing in toward the center of the bowl, create a space between the salad and the wall of the bowl. Slide in one of the egg slices so the slice is held flat against the wall of the bowl, then remove the spoon and gently press the salad layers back into place. Repeat to evenly place slices around the bowl, as in the photo above. Then chop the unused egg slices and the remaining eggs and layer the chopped eggs on top of the carrots.
Spread the peas evenly on top of the eggs.
Thoroughly mix together the mayo, sour cream and lemon juice. Spread evenly on top of the layer of peas.
Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese (I like a lot — you don’t have to use as much as I do).
Sprinkle evenly with bacon bits or crumbled bacon (ditto).
Refrigerate at least overnight before serving. Serve cold, and expect compliments on the attractive presentation. :-)
Now, get creative — try substituting different items for various layers (such as, say, chopped bell pepper in place of the celery?), add a layer or two (just because it started out with seven layers doesn’t mean it has to stay seven layers) or maybe just change the order of the layers. Make this classic your own, and have fun with it!
Copyright © Diane Aull. All rights reserved.