Ree's 7-Layer Salad Is a Dream Dish to Make Ahead of Time
2024/02/28

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Behold: this is one of the most beautiful you'll ever see! It's a staple at potlucks and luncheons in my area of the country. You can vary the ingredients according to your taste and what you have in your fridge, and you can dress it up a bit with , Gorgonzola cheese, cubed ham—whatever makes your skirt fly up! The ingredients are layered in a pretty glass bowl so the layers can be seen in all their colorful beauty.

But the true sign of a layered salad is what goes on top: an incredibly simple , which is spread evenly over the top so as to "seal in" the ingredients below. After that, it's refrigerated, then tossed on site just before serving.

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This is perfect for a ! It's a cool, crisp complement to all the  or even a at .

And it's purty.

What is layered salad?

It's a potluck classic! My mother-in-law used to make layered salad all the time and it's always a crowd-pleaser. The first step is to find a big clear bowl or trifle dish so you can see all the beautiful layers. Next, assemble the salad: start with a base of salad greens followed by hard boiled egg, crispy bacon, tomato, green onion, cheese, frozen peas, and the dressing—in that order!

What's the best lettuce for layered salad?

Almost any sort of salad greens work well in this recipe.

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I use a mix of like iceberg and spinach, but you could do all iceberg, spinach, romaine, or arugula.

What kind of bowl do you use for layered salad?

Go for a clear bowl so everyone can "ooh" and "aah" over all the layers. Really any ol' bowl will work, but I try to use a clear glass one when I can. This salad looks great in a trifle dish, too!

Can layered salad be made ahead of time?

Yes! It can be made up to eight hours in advance. You could even wash, dry, and chop the ingredients the night before and assemble the salad the next morning before an or .

How does layered salad not become soggy?

Magic! Okay, not really magic but rather lots of strategic layers and a nice, thick dressing that doesn't drip between them.

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The lettuce—the salad ingredient that typically gets soggy first—is on the opposite end of the bowl from the dressing, so there's no chance of the two touching until you stir the salad all together. The ingredients between, like the bacon, egg, and cheese act as a very important barrier. 

2

heads iceberg lettuce, chopped

8 oz.

baby spinach, washed and dried 

Salt and pepper, to taste

8

hard boiled eggs, chopped

16 oz.

bacon, cooked and chopped

4

tomatoes, chopped

1

bunch green onions, thinly sliced

8 oz.

cheddar cheese, grated

10 oz.

frozen peas, partially thawed

1/2 c.

mayonnaise

1/2 c.

sour cream

1 tbsp.

sugar, plus more to taste

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Chopped fresh dill, for topping

Step  1 To make the salad: Layer the salad ingredients in a clear glass bowl starting with the lettuce, concentrating the ingredients around the perimeter of the bowl and filling in the center with lettuce, if needed. End with the layer of peas. Step  2 To make the dressing: Combine ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Pour over the top of the peas and spread to cover, bringing the dressing all the way out to the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle with fresh dill.  Step  3 Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Toss just before serving.


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Here’s what you need. You can switch up the ingredients, add in things that excite you, change the variety of cheese—the world is your oyster!


If you have a clear glass bowl, grab it. If not, any ol’ bowl will do. Start with a layer of chopped iceberg.


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Sprinkle on some kosher salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.


Next comes a layer of baby spinach.


And another sprinkling of salt and pepper. This seasoning is important; it’ll give the salad more flavor once it’s all tossed together.


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After that, crack open some hard boiled eggs. I just the middle with a sharp knife…


Then slide the shell right off.


Then I just give it a rough chop. You can neatly slice the eggs if you’re into that kind of thing, or you can dice them finely. But I’m sort of a rough chop kind of girl.


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While you’ve got the knife in your hand, go ahead and chop up the bacon, too.


Make a nice layer of eggs, then a layer of bacon.


Hard boiled eggs + Bacon = TruLuv4Evr.


Here’s a little trick I do: since I want the ingredients to really show on the outside of the bowl, I concentrate them around the perimeter, then fill in the center with more lettuce or spinach.

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It’s all a sham!

A delicious, colorful sham.


Next, dice up some tomatoes…


And throw them over the top.


Pretty!


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Next, slice up a bunch of green onions…


And sprinkle those over the tomatoes. Color is bursting from the bowl!


Next comes a layer of grated cheese; I used sharp cheddar, but you can use Swiss, mozzarella, colby-jack…whatever you’d like! Just please grate your own. Please? Please please please please please?

Thank you.


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And next, one of the definite signs of a true Layered Salad: a generous layer of frozen (and partially thawed) green peas.


Gorgeous!


And now for the weirdness. Combine sour cream and mayonnaise in a bowl.


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Add a tablespoon or two of sugar. This is totally optional, and can be left out. But I really like what the sugar does to the dressing—doesn’t make it overly sweet, just gives it a little dimension.

Note: this is going to wind up being the dressing for the salad, so you can dress it up however you’d like. Fresh herbs would be nice, or just a little garlic.

I’m a purist, though. For this salad, I like things plain. Let the salad ingredients—not the dressing—take center stage!


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Mix it together till smooth, then pour it over the top of the salad.


Smooth it out with a spoon…


And bring the spoon out to the edges to seal in the ingredients below.


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And that is IT, my dears. Now cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for a few hours. That’s one of the beauties of this salad: make it beforehand and you’ll have plenty of time to paint your nails, do your hair, apply a rejuvenating mask, wax, self-tan, and try on eight different outfits before the picnic.


When it’s party time, garnish the top with a little of whatever leftover ingredients you might have: a little egg, a little bacon, a sprinkling of peas. Then just toss it at the party and add a little color to everyone’s plate.

Everyone’ll love it!

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