Tag Archives: salad

Seven Layer Salad

16 Feb

A few weeks ago my friend Erin mentioned that she’d made a Seven Layer Salad, and much like a song you can’t get out of your head, this salad has sat in my mind just begging to be made.  In the 80’s, it seemed like you couldn’t go to a special occasion or a potluck without having a Seven Layer Salad on the table.  It has been YEARS since I had one and couldn’t exactly remember what each of the seven layers were.  After asking a few people, it turns out that there are lots of variations on this salad, each one OFFICIALLY THE BEST.  I’ll take every single person’s word for it.

The basic premise is this – pick six of your favorite ingredients, layer them in a tall-sided glass bowl so that they look beautiful, and top it off with a dressing made of sour cream and mayo.  In deciding what to put in this version, I chose ingredients that I knew would be well received by my family.  Of course, if you are not rigid like me, you could definitely add more than seven layers.  And considering some of the delicious ingredients people have used in their OFFICIALLY THE BEST salads, I would not blame you for making a nine or ten layer salad.  When you’re creating your own layered salad, consider the following ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Mixed greens
  • Green onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cucumbers
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peas
  • Cheese (non-dairy, cheddar, feta, really any cheese because you cannot go wrong with a cheese layer)

For this version, I have also made it non-dairy by substituting non-dairy cheese and non-dairy sour cream (feel free to use dairy versions if you prefer).  The thing about non-dairy products is that sometimes they just don’t taste that great, and since the non-dairy sour cream is such an important part of the dressing, I decided to add in some flavor by using part of packet of Lipton Vegetable Dip Mix.  This dip mix does not contain any dairy, and really adds a lot of good flavor to the dressing.  Add as much or as little as you’d like, I found that about 1/4 of the packet seemed right to me.  The rest of it went into some more sour cream and we ate it with veggies this week.  I would also recommend making the dressing ahead of time so that it has more time to soak up the flavors of the dip mix.  The non-dairy sour cream really needs it, but if you’re using regular sour cream, you may not need that extra time.

This is a big, and hearty salad, but the calories are not super high per serving.  We ate loads of it at dinner, and we’ve been having the leftovers all week.  I was surprised at how well it holds up the next day.  I was also surprised at how good it was for breakfast.

See all that condensation on the inside of the bowl?  That happened because I made it ahead of time and it started to fog up a bit when I set it on the counter to serve it.  After just a few minutes at room temperature, the condensation was all gone.  Of course, so was about half of the salad.

Seven Layer Salad
Serving size: 1 scoop
Serves: 12

10 oz. bag romaine
6 eggs, -, cooled, peeled, and sliced
4 strips bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1-1/2 c. shredded non-dairy cheese
1 lb. frozen peas, thawed and drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1/2 c. non-dairy sour cream
1/2 c. reduced-fat mayo with olive oil
1/4 packet Lipton Vegetable Dip Mix
1 T. sugar


In a small bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients.  Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight to let the flavors come together.

In large bowl (a flat-sided trifle bowl works great, but any deep bowl will do), layer the salad ingredients.  Press the layers to the outside of the bowl first, then spread evenly any remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle salt and pepper every layer or two.  After all of the salad ingredients have been added, drop spoonfuls of the dressing around the top. Gently spread to the edges, trying not to disturb the cheese layer.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Estimated calories:  230 cal/serving

Print it: Non-Dairy Seven Layer Salad

Thai Turkey Salad

28 Nov

We had a terrific Thanksgiving and the brined turkey turned out great.  But, there were only six of us and we were left with quite a bit of turkey.  I love Thanksgiving leftovers as long as the stuffing holds out, but after that, anything that is left has to take on a new form.  On Thursday and Friday I ate primarily carbs, so when I woke up on Saturday, my body was crying out for FRESH, GREEN, and RAW.

The contents and flavors of this salad are based on Thai spring rolls.  I LOVE spring rolls, but never make them because they feel too tedious for me.  This salad takes some of the main ingredients (minus the noodles and spring roll wrapper) and stacks it up in a bowl, and the dipping sauce becomes a light dressing.  It is the perfect compromise for those times I really want the taste of a spring roll, but am too lazy to make them or drive the 20 miles it takes to get to the nearest restaurant that serves them.

Thai Turkey Salad
Serves: 4

4 c. lettuce
8 oz. turkey breast, diced
9 oz. bean sprouts
1 c. carrots, julienned
1/2 c. cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 green onions, tops only, chopped
1/4 c. peanuts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

2 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. water
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. sesame oil
1/4 – 1/2 t. crushed red pepper


Divide all of the salad ingredients between four bowls, layering lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, turkey, cilantro, green onions, and peanuts.

Place all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until the sugar is dissolved.  This can be made ahead of time.

Drizzle the dressing over each of the salads, season with salt and pepper,  and serve.


Estimated Calories:  170 cal/serving

Print it: Thai Turkey Salad

– This salad would be a great way to use any leftover meats, feel free to substitute cooked chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp in place of the turkey.  For a non-meat option, try garbanzo beans.
– I left the turkey cold for this salad, but you could serve the meat part of the salad warm if you prefer.
– The dressing was really good and would taste great on some steamed vegetables to make a nice light side.
– Do you add salt and pepper to your salads?  Up until about a year ago, I didn’t and was SHOCKED at how much better they were with a little salt and pepper.  It makes sense, since I add a little salt and pepper to most vegetables, but hadn’t considered it for salad.  See if you agree.
– If you are serving this for a larger crowd or as a side, it would look really pretty on a platter instead of in individual bowls.

Creamy Cucumbers with Tomato & Mint

5 Sep

If you have a garden, or if your neighbor has a garden, there’s a good chance that you are staring down a pile of cucumbers.  This time of year, the novelty of fresh cucumbers has worn off just enough that simply salting them and placing them on a plate for a snack or side is no longer enough.  The days of enjoying the crisp light flavor is over, now you need to make your way through them and get everyone else in the neighborhood to do the same.  I picked a few from my mom’s garden this weekend, each one so long that when lined up on the countertop it looked like I was manufacturing temporary peg legs for vegan pirates.  Long cucumber story short: we have a lot of cucumbers.

Many cultures have dishes that combine cream and cucumbers.  One of my favorites comes from my friend Sevda’s mom, who makes a dish with wilted cucumbers, cream and sugar.  It is deliciously light in flavor, but not all that low in calories.  I decided to start out with the same basic approach used in that dish by wilting the cucumbers in salt slightly before assembling the final dish.  To make the dish a bit healthier, I used fat-free Greek yogurt in place of the cream – this added a bit more body, a slightly sour flavor, and some protein to the dish.  And as long as I was making changes, I decided to add some flavors from traditional Turkish cucumber dishes, and threw in some mint and garlic.  The resulting recipe no longer resembled either sources of inspiration, but was a tasty compilation.

Creamy Cucumbers with Tomato & Mint
Serves: 4

2 c. cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
1 c. fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 c. tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. onions, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 T. fresh mint, sliced
2 t. honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, stir to combine.  Place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes so that the cucumbers will wilt slightly.  Rinse thoroughly, and then drain excess liquid.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Estimated Calories:  60 cal/serving

Print it: Creamy Cucumbers

– To make this a complete meal, consider adding cooked shrimp or cannellini beans
– To add more nutrients, serve on top of mixed greens
– To soak up the delicious sauce, toast a baguette and rub a clove of garlic over the cut surface, then serve on the side

Fire & Ice Shrimp Salad

18 Jul

 This week, it has been piping hot in much of the country.  In our area, the heat and humidity have combined to make the outside feel like a sauna.  The kind of sauna that I would love at a spa, but hate to encounter every time I step out the door.  This kind of heat makes doing anything feel awfully taxing, especially cooking.  Yesterday, the idea of turning on the stove, oven, or even the microwave seemed almost more than I could bear (side note: I would have made the worst pioneer ever). 

I pulled a bag of shrimp from the freezer and thawed 6 oz (for the size I was using, there were 18 shrimp).  After thawing, I removed the tails and chopped them up, then added some chopped veggies.  This completed the work portion of the recipe, which was good because I was hot already.  I made a light dressing using reduced-fat mayo and greek yogurt, then tossed in a bit of heat with garlic and tabasco.  There are more ingredients and actual measurements below, but my point is this: the entire recipe is complete after a bit of chopping and stirring. 

This recipe is easy, delicious and flavorful.  Having said that, I feel like I should also point out that if you have children like mine, they will not eat this.  But that is okay, because you will want to keep it all for yourself.

Fire & Ice Shrimp Salad
Serves: 3
Serving Size:  ½ c.

6 oz. cooked shrimp, peeled and chopped
1 roma  tomato, seeded and chopped
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 T. reduced fat mayo
2 T. greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. water
½ t. Worcestershire
6 shakes tabasco

In a large bowl, add shrimp, tomato, cucumber, and green onion; stir to combine.

In a food processor, add mayo through Tabasco and pulse until well blended.  Spoon onto shrimp mixture and stir well until everything is mixed and evenly coated. 

Refrigerate for at least one hour, stir, then serve.


  • This salad can be eaten with a fork or placed on top of lettuce leaves for a pretty side dish or starter.
  • I served it as a light lunch and used bell pepper, cucumber, and crackers to scoop up the shrimp salad.  The calories will vary based on what you serve as the sides for this dish.  Veggies are the lowest (1/3 bell pepper = 12 calories, 1/3 cucumber = 15 calories, flatbread crackers = 10 calories each)
  • This salad has a slight kick to it.   Adjust the heat by increasing or decreasing the amount of Tabasco.
  • This can be made up to 2 days ahead, but is best on day one.
  • This can easily be made non-dairy by substituting non-dairy sour cream for the greek yogurt. 

 Estimated Calories:  81 cal/serving (salad alone),  178 cal/serving (as shown in photo with sides for scooping)

Print it: Fire & Ice Shrimp Salad

Antipasto Salad

1 Jul

There are a few things I look for in a good side dish recipe:
1. Can be made ahead of time
2. Will be enjoyed by people who have varying tastes
3. I like it
4. It’s not baked beans

This Antipasto Salad recipe fits the bill and more.  It is tasty, flavorful, feeds a large crowd, holds up for more than one day.  Making it is as easy as opening up a few jars, doing some chopping, and mixing together. 

Antipasto Salad
Serves: 12
Serving Size:  Scoop
16 oz. jar mild pepperoncini, drained
12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
8 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into thin strips
6 oz. can pitted black olives, drained
12 oz. non-dairy mozzarella, cubed
1/4 lb. sliced pepperoni, cut into strips
1/3 c. non-dairy Greek dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until everything is well mixed and coated in dressing.  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to two days before serving.


  • You can substitute dairy cheese for the non-dairy kind used in this recipe.
  • When using non-dairy cheese, make it a day ahead so that the cheese has time to take on some of the other flavors.  Trust me, it is better that way.
  • Be careful when buying pepperoncini – there are both mild and spicy varieties.
  • If you find that you’re serving up a larger than expected crowd, add chopped romaine right before serving to increase the yield.

Estimated Calories:  255 cal/serving

Print it: Antipasto Salad

Le Boui-Boui

29 Jun

Our two main activities in Paris last week were eating and walking.  If it hadn’t been for one, we would never have been able to do the other.  One afternoon, we explored a neighborhood that is straight north of Notre-Dame.  It is pretty far away from any of the regular tourist areas, near the metro stop Etienne Marcel. Armed with the info that the “rue Montorgueil” is a street worth checking out and the names of a few restaurants to consider, we found it on the map and headed in that direction.  Not able to find the restaurants we were searching for, and exhausted after so much walking, we settled on one we found on a side street off of rue Montorgueil.

We lucked out with Le Boui-Boui.  It is a cute restaurant, the menu had plenty of items from which to choose, and the people were very friendly. 

What to Eat:
The menu appears to change regularly, and items are only available until they run out.  We had a variety of items, and loved them all.  I had a chicken salad that I’ll probably be busy trying to recreate for the rest of my life.  Lightly dressed greens with fresh herbs, chicken, roasted potatoes, fresh tomatoes, a tortilla with melted goat cheese, topped with a little balsamic and pesto.  It was hearty but not heavy, full of flavor but not overdone.

And although we were full, we had dessert anyway.  Once we saw the dessert menu, we couldn’t pass up the apple gelato topped with Calvados.  The gelato had a bit of a citrus taste with tiny bits of apple, all made a bit float-like with the addition of Calvados. 

It is worth the effort to find this location – you’ll be glad for the break from tourist areas, and the food was some of the best we had in the city.

Where to Go:
11 Rue Marie Stuart
75002 Paris, France

More Info:
Web: http://www.lebouiboui.fr/
Phone: 01 42 36 40 94

Cold Macaroni Salad with Ham

27 Jun

When I was a kid, on super hot days my mom would declare it too hot to cook, and would whip up a batch of Cold Macaroni Salad with Ham.  So now that I’m an adult, when it’s hot and humid, the only thing that appeals to me is Cold Macaroni Salad with Ham.  It is the perfect combination of light-rich-sweet-saltiness that hits the spot when its piping hot outside.  It is easy to make, and keeps for a few days in the refrigerator, as long as my kids don’t live with you.  I’ve modified the original recipe a little to make it slightly lighter and less oniony.  We usually serve this as a main meal, but it would make a fine side dish as well.

Cold Macaroni and Ham Salad
Serves: Approx. 6 main servings

2 c. uncooked macaroni shells
2 c. ham, diced
1 c. celery, chopped
2 T. onion, finely diced
1 t. kosher salt
3/4 c. reduced-fat olive oil mayo
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. cider vinegar
1/2 c. cashews

In a pot of boiling water, cook macaroni shells until al dente.  Rinse under cold water and drain.

In a large bowl, add cooled macaroni shells, ham, celery, onion, and salt.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together mayo, brown sugar, vinegar until well blended.  Pour over macaroni mixture, and stir until everything is coated in dressing. 

Refrigerate for at least one hour.   When ready to serve, scoop into a bowl and top with a few cashews.

Estimated Calories:  386 per serving

Print it: Cold Macaroni and Ham Salad