Crunchy Layered Salad
There are a few dishes I only make when I'm having a crowd either because I have no self-control and need the food to disappear (Yummy Potatoes or Pound Cake) or because it's far too much effort to make for a family of four (Hello - Lemon Heaven). Still, there is a third category of "crowd food" which I make because the dish is better when it's made in advance and given a chance for the flavors to develop (Salsa or Sangria). Today's "Crunchy Salad" is in the third category. This is one of my mother's "go to" dishes, and I am carrying on her tradition. Here's what you need:
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce (approximately)
- 1/2 red onion, sliced into thin rings, separated and then chopped again
- 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
For the dressing:
- 1 cup sour cream (I use the light version)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (light version again)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- White vinegar to taste and as needed
Begin by washing the lettuce and removing the hard core. (I bang the lettuce on the divider in my sink and then the core twists out easily.) Spin or towel dry the leaves.
Shred the lettuce with a knife. While I don't generally use a knife on my lettuce (because it browns the lettuce), in this instance I cut corners and take the easy way out!The rest of the process is EASY. You are just creating layers. Fill the bowl two-thirds to three quarters of the way.Add the layer of thinly sliced onions. If you or someone you know dislikes a powerful onion flavor, soak the onions in an "ice bath" (water and ice in a bowl) for approximately 10 minutes before adding to the salad. If you do the ice bath, be sure to dry the onions before adding to the salad.Chop the celery and add the layer.Then add a layer of peas. If you've forgotten to defrost your peas in advance (maybe it's just me who spaces on this step!), simply put the peas in water and defrost. Again, if you have to do this, make sure you towel dry the peas!Stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and sugar. If the dressing seems too think to be spreadable, add a little white vinegar to thin.Even after this, the dressing will be a little thick so when you top the salad, distribute the way you would if you were icing a cake, putting dollops around the edges then spreading evenly.Chill overnight (or for most of the day) and then top with bacon and Parmesan cheese immediately before serving.When you serve the salad, make sure you dig through all of the layers for each serving.
This is always a crowd favorite!