The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Layered Spring Salad

By Vicki Lopez-Kaley on Monday, April 29th 2024

For the salad, choose roughly seven of the following:
greens such as: ½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped, 1 C baby spinach, mesclun, arugula, romaine or other greens, washed and dried 
salt and pepper, to taste
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
8 oz. bacon, cooked and chopped or 1 C chopped ham or leftover chicken
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 bunch scallions, red, white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ - 1 Cup spring vegetable such as sliced radishes, blanched asparagus, cut in 1” pieces, grated carrots or coarsely chopped leftover cauliflower or broccoli, raw or blanched
4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated or other cheese you have on hand
½ C whole or chopped spring or sugar snap peas or frozen peas, partially thawed
For the dressing:
1 / 4  C mayonnaise
1 / 4 C sour cream
½ T sugar, plus more to taste
Chopped fresh chives or dill, for topping or dried dill

To make the salad: Layer the salad ingredients in a clear glass bowl, if possible, starting with the greens, Salt them a bit.   Concentrate each ingredient around the perimeter of the bowl and fill in the center with lettuce, if needed.  You want the variously colored layers to be seen from the outside of the container.
Between the greens, add one or more layer of protein such as eggs, bacon, ham and/or chicken.  Clean out the fridge!  This provides a barrier between the lettuces and the more moist ingredients, like blanched veggies or tomatoes.
End with the layer of peas.
To make the dressing: Combine ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Pour over the top of the top layer, such as peas and spread to cover, bringing the dressing all the way out to the edges of the bowl.  You may choose to leave the dressing in a bowl on the side.  Provide a tongs so your guests can dig into the layers and add dressing on the top!
Sprinkle with fresh dill, dried dill or chopped fresh chives. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Toss carefully with a tongs or two spoons or forks just before serving.
This can be made up to a day ahead of time and tossed right before serving.

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This recipe is a simple contribution to a First Communion or Graduation buffet.  It also provides delicious leftovers!   I do try to get out in my yard to forage young dandelion greens before they get big and tough in honor of Grandma DiUlio.  I fry them up with a little oil, turkey bacon and garlic.  Baby greens like chard, kale, spinach are my favorite substitutes.

Sometimes it's the simple things we practice that bring about change, even to the food system.  Something as simple as cooking at home a bit more makes a huge difference and I forget that it is a practice, like walking or gratitude.  A sustainable food system advocacy newsletter called Civil Eats reminded me of this recently.  An article by  Kim O'Donnel says that "Home cooking is the cornerstone of a sustainable food system!"  She says, "(W)hen we cook for ourselves, we are active and using our five physical senses, and we are engaged in this process from start to finish. Then, I feel like there’s no way that we don’t become more attuned to how food is grown. "

We don't all need to have a garden, or shop all the time at the Farmer's Market (opening soon near you!), Co-op or local farmer.  All those things have value.  The simple act of looking in our fridge and pantry and cooking an omelet, a variation on beans and rice or a layered salad is a radical act, using your hands and taste buds to feed yourself and others with something satisfying.   Cook joyfully.


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