Friday, July 22, 2011

Layered Summer Salad

Not only do I like making food that tastes good, but that also looks good.  When Robbie and I were first married (before kids), I would try to think of creative ways to plate dinner.  Seven-plus years and four kids later, my goal is just to get the food from the kitchen to the dining room with as little as possible ending up on the floor.

One dish I make that still looks pretty, even with my precious munchkins running around my legs, is layered salad.  Rather than putting the salad on individual plates in the kitchen as I do with my taco salad or southwest salad, I layer all the ingredients in a pretty glass bowl.  This allows me to serve something that looks great and is easy to get on the table (or the picnic blanket).

The ingredients listed in the recipe serve merely as a guide.  This is how I made it last week.  Next time it will be different.  There are a few basic things to keep in mind when making layered salads:
  • Think about color.  Try to break up ingredients of the same color—don’t put peas on top of lettuce or cheddar cheese on top of carrots.
  • Avoid excess moisture.  Be sure to drain everything well so juice from one layer doesn’t seep down into the lower layers.  Some ingredients such as lettuce and cheese don’t do well with moisture.  If using tomatoes, use grape or cherry tomatoes that don’t need to be cut.
  • Try to make only as much as will be eaten.  Because everything ends up mixed up in the bowl, leftovers will only last about a day if everything started out pretty dry.  If there is excess water to start with, leftovers may be soggy by the next day.
  • Be sure everything is cut, diced, torn, or chopped to bite-sized.
  • Serve croutons and dressings on the side.  Not only does this allow everyone to customize their salad, it will help any leftovers last longer.

Layered Summer Salad
Greens, torn
Carrots, sliced
Whole wheat shell noodles, cooked, drained, and cooled
Frozen peas, thawed (can thaw under cool running water)
Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Beets, sliced
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Hard boiled eggs, sliced
Assorted salad dressings

Layer all ingredients in glass bowl.  Serve croutons and salad dressings on the side.

The easiest, fastest way to slice beets.

I put the peas and garbanzos on top of the noodles
because my kids like it when they get stuck in the shells.

Perfect summer picnic in the front yard!

I went for balsamic vinaigrette.  Yum!

Note:  I made this salad meatless.  You could add chopped sauteed chicken.

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