Layered Salads—Attractive, Convenient and Delicious Salads on the Go
By Michele Hatton
The 1950s brought us the seven-layer salad—an inch of sour cream topped with iceberg lettuce, followed by several inches of grated Kraft cheese, bacon pieces, mayonnaise... It made for an eye-catching dish, especially when prepared in big glass bowls that showed off the colorful layers. Today, however, layered salads can be put together with fresher, nutrient-dense ingredients like sprouts, radishes, baby greens and walnuts and are equally striking. More importantly, they offer a quick, easy, and convenient way to make grab ’n go salads for the family that last all week long.
Phoenix Minklei-Fermin, health coach and herbalist, teaches seminars at New Leaf on preparing layered salads. She advices, “Start with a clean, wide-mouth, one-quart mason jar that is completely dry (moisture is not the friend of a crisp salad). Then, layer from the bottom up.” The dressing is the first layer followed by layers of hardy vegetables like celery, carrots and cabbage (these marinate nicely in the dressing without damaging the integrity of the vegetables). Lettuce and other more delicate vegetables like sprouts and radishes are layered last. Minklei-Fermin reminds us not to cut the lettuce but to tear it, as cut edges will brown. She adds that it is important the delicate vegetables do not come in contact with the dressing as they will wilt. “When finished layering,” she says, “place a folded paper towel at the top of the salad, just before the lid goes on. This will absorb some of the excess moisture and keep the greens more crisp.”
Salads can be dressed up by adding other ingredients, including colorful seeds like pumpkin and walnuts (bring these in a separate bag and add right before serving). “Be creative,” encourages Minklei-Fermin who concocts such items as “immune-boosting” layered salads with shiitake mushrooms and ginger. She recommends avoiding odorous ingredients such as eggs, blue cheese and raw onion or adding these just before serving.
The beauty of these salads is that they can be prepped in jars on a Sunday and will store in the fridge for up to five days. The jars, lined up in rows in the fridge, add an attractive accent to the humdrum contents of our refrigerator. When ready to serve, simply pour the contents of the jar into a bowl (the dressing will spread evenly) and enjoy. For “boxed” lunches, simply shake the jar vigorously and dig in.
For dinner parties, layer the salad in a pretty, clear glass bowl, thickening the ingredients around the perimeter of the bowl to accent the colors. Toss the salad right before eating.