Classic Seven-Layer Salad ♥ A Favorite Family Recipe

Classic Seven-Layer Salad
A classic summer salad, the seven-layer salad, with layers of romaine, peas, bacon, cheese, tomato, cooked eggs. Great for potlucks and a family favorite for holidays year-round. So many people love this salad!

~recipe & photo updated 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

2008: Last week my favorite Estonian blogger, Pille from the food blog Nami-Nami who also hosts the Estonian equivalent of Epicurious, visited for a few days. Ha! I write that so matter-of-factly, as if her visit all the way from Estonia were no big deal. But the few days we had were special, time spent with someone who, thanks to blogging, I 'already knew', even as we met face-to-face for the first time. Thank you, Pille, for coming to St. Louis!

On the Monday, we invited some St. Louis food bloggers over for a supper potluck. Since this was Pille's first trip to the U.S., "American food" was the theme.

For the first time ever, I made the classic seven-layer salad -- but only because it was so 'American'. You see, I've had seven-layer salads at potlucks -- they're standards, right? doesn't someone always bring a seven-layer salad to a potluck? -- and to my taste, they're too often icky-heavy. But not this time! I used the Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing which is sooo much lighter in both texture and calories than the typical mayonnaise versions that other seven-layer recipes call for, some times just plain ol' mayonnaise glopped on. So this salad, this salad was really good!

In the tall clear glass trifle bowl, my seven-layer salad turned into 14 layers -- it was so pretty! -- though usually, I think, other cooks do seven layers in a 9x13 pan so the trifle bowl is entirely optional. In fact, it's probably easier to stir a seven-layer salad in a 9x13. Plus, since you stir before serving, the drama of the layers is lost, anyway.

VEGETARIAN & VEGAN SEVEN-LAYER SALAD
Since Nupur from One Hot Stove and Lisa from Show-Me Vegan were attending, I also made a vegan version of the seven-layer salad, omitting the bacon, cheese and eggs and using a vegan mayonnaise. (Note to Vegetarians)

MORE AMERICAN DISHES from ST LOUIS FOOD BLOGGERS
Nupur brought her summer rolls (which because they are so delicious, we decided would qualify as 'new American') and Lisa her BBQ Beans with Dark Rum. Bruno from Bruno's Dream brought a delicious pizza which was just as good, cold, for lunch the next day. Joy from The Spiral of Seasons brought homemade bread with two homemade butters which we all raved over. Pille made a variation of her beet and blue cheese tartlets and also her gorgeous orange and red onion salad. For dessert, we had a cherry cobbler from Ann at Kitchen Conservatory and cupcakes -- of course! -- from Stef of Cupcake Project. For a 'school night', the eight of us laughed long and late. Twas fun, all, thank you for coming over! (Want to learn more about St. Louis food bloggers? Follow all the fun at StLFoodBlogs.com.)

CLASSIC SEVEN-LAYER SALAD

Hands-on time: 20 minutes (presumes dressing, eggs, bacon, already made)
Time to table: 4 hours
Serves a bunch
(Amounts shown in parentheses below are plenty to serve 16)

SALAD LAYERS
Romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-size pieces (about 1 pound)
Frozen peas (about 8 ounces), rinsed under cold water briefly to thaw, then drained well
Cooked bacon (about 8 ounces)
Good summer tomato, chopped (about 1 pound)
Hard-boiled egg, sliced (about 3 eggs)
Cheddar cheese, grated (about 8 ounces)

FOR GARNISH (put aside some of the above for garnish)
Cheddar cheese around the edge
Chopped tomatoes in the center
A handful of peas over the tomatoes
A sprinkle of bacon bits over the tomatoes

SALAD LAYERS Reserve some cheese, tomatoes, peas and bacon for garnishing. In a 9x13 pan or other dish, build salad in layers, from bottom to top. Drizzle with Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing, letting the dessing slip into the cracks. If needed, do a second or third set of layers and drizzle again.

GARNISH Spread a thin layer of cheddar cheese around the perimeter, then fill the center with tomatoes. Sprinkle with peas and bacon.

TO SERVE Cover and let chill for 4 hours in the refrigerator before serving. (I haven't made this without waiting so don't know if this step is really necessary or not.) Stir just before serving.

KITCHEN NOTES
ROMAINE For the romaine, the smaller the pieces, the easier the salad will be to stir. Do tear, not cut, the romaine, otherwise the edges will appear dark and bruised. If there's romaine left over, take it along in a freezer bag and stir into the salad just before it's served. This helps make it a more "lettuce" salad than a "cheese and bacon salad".
BACON Here's how to make homemade bacon bits. Don't buy the product called Bacon Bits, they're awful; if you don't have time to cook your own bacon, then skip this ingredient.
EGGS Here's how to cook perfect hard-boiled eggs.
DRESSING If using another dressing, make sure it's thin enough to 'dress' the salad, not just thickly coat the lettuce and other layers. If I were using mayonnaise, I would thin it with skim milk.
USE A LIGHT TOUCH It's really easy to turn this salad into something too heavy. Even though I used what 'seemed' like a lot of romaine lettuce at the time, there wasn't enough lettuce for it to really be a 'salad'. Because there are so many other layers, I should have (1) done really thin layers, a sprinkling even, of the non-lettuce layers and (2) used much more lettuce.
SALAD DOESN'T KEEP While the salad does need to rest for the dressing to soak in and the flavors to meld, it doesn't hold over well the next day so you'll want to make just enough.



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MORE FAVORITES: CLASSIC SUMMER SALAD RECIPES
~ Cobb Salad ~
uses several of the same ingredients
~ No-Cook Taboulleh ~
~ Broccoli, Pepper & Celery Salad ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Favorite Summer Salad Recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade


A Veggie Venture is home of salad lover and 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2011


15 comments:

Fabulous spread! Sounds like a very grand visit for Pellie! Love this salad and will for sure be trying that dressing!

This sounds wonderful! Thanks for the recipe. I really do like Seven Layer Salad. The links to the other recipes look great too. Can't wait to click around.

This salad is a staple in our family - we sometimes add avocado as well. Can't wait to try it with your dressing though!

Thanks for being such a gracious hostess Alanna! It was nice meeting Pille and seeing some of the local food bloggers again.

Oh, it sounds like you had a lovely time! Um, I don't know how to tell you this, Alanna, but I've never heard of the classic 7 layer salad. The closet thing I can think of is a Mexican layer salad with black beans from my college days. Thanks for bringing me in the loop!

My family made a Seven Layer Salad for almost every "occassion" when I was growing up. I think they also submitted their recipe to several church cookbooks. Thanks for bringing back those family memories with a new twist! :-)

Thanks so much for having us over and being so attentive to your veg guests. It was really fun to get to know the local bloggers better, as well as to meet Pille, and hear about Estonian food. I really enjoyed your veganized salad!

What a fun time for everyone getting to meet Pille. Wish I could have been there.

This salad is a classic in Utah, where it's often called "Sarah Salad" although I have no idea why! Someone brings it nearly every time we have a family party. S

I enjoyed this salad a lot - and think I'll be making it during the summer on a few occasions. I need to find a lovely glass bowl, however..

wow! wish I was part of the fun too. The salad looks perfect for such a fun time with friends!

The dressing sounds perfect for the 7 layer salad. I am planning a graduation party for next weekend and can't wait to check out the other links you have posted.

I loved hearing about your get together. Pot Luck meals are good fun although I did attend one that was less than successful. There were twleve Quiche Lorraine and a glut of garlic bread. No coordination, no variety. More pot than luck.
Seven layer salad has been printed off and Freddie is a little nervous but up for a challenge!

Thanks again for hosting! It was such a fun evening with great company and fantastic food!

Sorry I'm coming late to this post, but I'm wondering if you ever posted the veggie or vegan version of this salad. I tried searching and didn't easily find it. Thanks!

No problem, Kelly - thanks for pointing this out. I used this vegan mayonnaise and omitted the eggs, bacon, etc.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna