I was a picky eater as a child. I didn’t like cheese. I didn’t like pizza. I abhorred fat and religiously sliced it from my pork chop or roast beef. I didn’t like any vegetables except carrots (I’m sorry I shunned you, corn on the cob). I especially disliked salad, which in my eyes was just a bunch of vegetables disguised as a different dish, shudder. I would never have fit in with an Amish family that says, “Better a burst stomach than wasted food.”
I can’t believe I didn’t like salad, because it’s one of my favorites now. With Memorial Day weekend and picnic season fast approaching, add my Seven Layer Salad recipe to your files. There are several Amish versions of this salad and they usually include boiled eggs sliced up, along with shredded cheddar. Much to my delight, Der Dutchman serves one and it is very good. My version came from my supervisor at the Dayton library. Years ago, the staff held a picnic and that’s when I first met Seven Layer Salad’s cool crunch, mayo tang, and savory goodness. I asked for the recipe and it’s the one I still use, with a few tweaks. Maybe my Seven Layer Salad is a not quite Amish recipe, but that’s why we’re all here, right?
I take my recipe card to the store with me so I don’t forget to purchase anything. It’s also a good idea to plan a meal like homemade chicken noodle soup within a couple of days afterwards so you can use up the rest of veggies you didn’t need for the salad. Note that the original recipe called for a can of water chestnuts. I like them, but they’re colorless. The whole idea of this salad, besides making you swoon, is to display seven pretty layers, so for me, my old favorite the carrot makes a better and more colorful choice. The original recipe hails from the days before microwave bacon, but that’s what I use now. I also didn’t have seasoning salt on hand this go-round, so I substituted regular salt. With those few changes noted, here’s Miss Pickenpaugh’s original Seven Layer Salad recipe.
- Seven Layer Salad
- Assemble the night before serving:
- 1 medium head of iceberg lettuce, shredded and well-drained
- ½ cup thinly sliced green onions
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and sliced (1 cup carrots, thinly sliced)
- 1 (10 oz) pkg frozen peas
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Seasoned salt to sprinkle (table salt)
- ½ to ¾ lb. bacon, fried crisp (1 pkg microwave bacon, cooked crisp)
- Cherry tomatoes
- In a three to four quart glass serving bowl, make a layer of shredded lettuce.
- Top with a layer each of the prepared green onions, celery, carrots, and frozen peas (do not thaw).
- Spread evenly with mayonnaise.
- Sprinkle with sugar, Parmesan cheese, salt, and garlic powder.
- Cover and refrigerate for several hours or until the next day.
- Just before serving, crumble bacon into salad and top with cherry tomatoes (I added bacon and tomatoes before refrigerating several hours on the same day).
Nowadays, I use a clear plastic container with a lid rather than a glass bowl. If you transport this salad to picnics and carry-in meals, it will be much more portable in a lidded container. One thing I noticed about the Amish recipes is that, rather than trying to scoop up a serving and include all the layers, they toss the salad before serving. The mayo dressing binds the ingredients together for easier serving of all the ingredients in each delicious bite.
Now, isn’t that pretty? What’s your favorite summertime salad recipe?
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