Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Half Blog-Birthday and Make-ahead Layered Salad

I made my first Engineering Dinner post 6 months ago today! There have been 43 posts since then and over 5,000 page views. True to the blog name, I've shared mostly dinners but there have been two desserts and a smoothie. And, like most bloggers, my most popular post has been a dessert.

My uncle has always brought his Farmer's Salad to family dinners. It's delicious, but I never knew how easy it was until this past Christmas when I made it myself. You layer all these ingredients together the night before and let them meld into a fantastically flavored salad. I've made it for several get-togethers since then and recently realized that there's no reason why this has to be reserved for special events. What's better than a salad that you just have to toss when you get home?

So my description thus far may have cued a memory of a mayonnaise-y salad you've had in your past. Yes, there's mayonnaise in this, and yes, it's a fair amount. If you dislike mayonnaise all I can offer is that I've served this to several professed mayonnaise haters (my husband included) and they've all enjoyed the salad. I think that mayonnaise selection is key here. In my experience, the Spectrum Organics brand Olive Oil mayo is the key to enjoyment for non-mayo eaters.

Straying from tradition, I have engineered the flavors a little bit for this version, and the possibilities for other flavor options are endless. It's also a great way to use leftovers, as I did with the chicken! It will keep for lunch the next day, but not much further.

Make-ahead Layered Salad
Serves 4+
All measurements are approximate and some depend on the diameter of your bowl.
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut and washed
  • 1/2 lb spinach, torn into bite-sized amounts
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 c frozen peas (do not defrost)
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (omit if vegan, or substitute another protein)
  • ~1/3 c cooked chicken, chopped (omit if vegan, or substitute another protein)
  • ~1/4 c craisins
  • ~3/4 c cheese, shredded (I used goat gouda, but any kind will work)
  • ~1/2 c mayo (vegannaise or another substitute is acceptable)
  • ~1/4 c mustard (I used a stone ground dijon, but honey mustard would be excellent)
  1. Place lettuce and spinach in the bottom of a large bowl. (I used my large mixing bowl.) You may need to press down gently to compress them.
  2. Sprinkle celery over lettuce layer.
  3. Sprinkle peas over celery.
  4. Sprinkle bacon and chicken over peas, if using.
  5. Sprinkle craisins over meat.
  6. Sprinkle cheese over craisins. You want to cover the surface with cheese.
  7. Mix the mayo and mustard together in a bowl. Spread over cheese to completely cover all the way to the bowl. It's critical that this mixture covers everything to seal out air and moisture. Cover bowl and place in fridge overnight.
  8. Next day: I like to pull it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before I plan to serve it. Toss completely and serve.
Lettuce, spinach, celery, and peas
Added meats and craisins
Seal out moisture and air... seal in flavor!
This recipe has been shared on Diet, Dessert and Dogs' Wellness Weekend, Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten Free Fridays, and Allergy Free Alaska's Whole Food Fridays.

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