~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
Time to table: 4 hours
Serves a bunch
(Amounts shown in parentheses below are plenty to serve 16)
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.
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.
~ 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
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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