Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dinner for a Hot Day - Cold Overnight Salad

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Dear gardeners and market-scouters,

As the CSA season for Virginia gears up, and the farmer's markets are all beginning to carry bounties of fresh produce - it is time to start looking at some of my favorite salads!

Nothing beats a cold, crisp salad on a hot evening.  Served with some iced lemonade, and maybe a loaf of sourdough bread - what could be better?

My uncle, a renowned doctor in the allergy world, loves to create and serve fabulous meals for family gatherings.  It is always a joy to attend meals at his home.  As a scientist, he intimately understands the chemistry and interactions of food on a molecular level and his cooking is enhanced by this knowledge.  The following recipe is a very simple one that he gave to me, handwritten on a sheet of paper, after I begged for it one Christmas Eve.  When I asked him for it, he shrugged and said, "It's just a salad, you know."  But I had to recreate the experience for myself ... and I have never been disappointed!

Overnight Salad
When Dr Uncle serves this at family gatherings, I head straight for it and eat about four servings ... This salad also makes a phenomenal meal if you serve it on top of a large, broken-open baked potato.   

1 medium head lettuce - washed and chilled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
Optional: 1/2 bell pepper, seeded & sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 package frozen peas
3/4 lb bacon, cooked crisp & drained
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 tomatoes
Mix together: 
2 cups mayonnaise, preferably homemade (or, 1-1/2 c mayo and 2/3 c sour cream)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Chop lettuce into bottom of 4-quart dish.  Layer: green onions, then water chestnuts, then green peppers and celery, then still-frozen peas.  Spread the top of this strata with the mayonnaise mixture.  Top with the bacon and eggs.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or for several hours (or you can eat it right away if you are as impatient as I).  Top with tomatoes, coarsely chopped.

Serve as a stand-alone dish, or on top of a large baked potato, split open.

Of course, I have to add some coarsely chopped black pepper! 

If it's hot enough out, maybe you should follow the salad with a huge root beer float ...

Layers upon layers,

Mrs H

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