I’m not really much of a salad person. I usually only eat it because I feel I should for my health… never because I actually want to… never because I think it might actually be tasty and satisfying. When planning a meal, I never think “oooh, salad would be good…” And I never understood people who can eat salad for lunch every day – oh, no… not me!
But every now and then, I am surprised…
Sometimes, salad just hits the spot. Sometimes, it is just so flavorful, and crunchy, and fresh, and savory, that I actually want to eat more. And look forward to the next time I can eat it. And, I get this little proud, glowy feeling inside because I’m eating something that’s good for me and I’m enjoying it! Now, in my entire life, I have probably only really felt this way about salad a handful of times. But, I can remember each and every salad that has ever made me feel this way:
- Mandarin Lettuce Salad
- Fuji Apple Salad with Grilled Chicken (Panera Bread)
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
- Asian Crispy Chicken Salad (Applebee’s)
- and… today’s salad: Layered Basil Salad
So, what is so great about this salad? Well, it pretty much has everything I like on my salads. At a salad bar, my plate ends up looking pretty much like this salad: greens, carrots, peas (must have peas!), ham, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs. Now, there are two things that really take this salad a step beyond your typical ho-hum salad-bar salad.
The first: fresh, home-prepped ingredients. They’re just plain better than salad bar or restaurant ingredients. You know where your ingredients came from, you know who cleaned and chopped them, and you know it hasn’t been sitting around in the chiller for 3 days getting soggy, and growing germs. Eww.
The second: the dressing. You can’t find this dressing in any store or restaurant. It is just so good! The basil makes the salad taste so fresh and different. There are so many different flavors in this salad that each bite tastes a little different from the last. But the dressing creates a cohesive flavor that binds it all together.
Oh, wait! How could I forget! There is a third thing that makes this salad stand out. And, really, it is too obvious to even mention, really. I mean, just look at it! It’s gorgeous! This is a salad that is hearty enough to serve as a main dish… for a special occasion… and it can be your centerpiece! I call that a winner.
- 4 cups assorted salad greens, washed and torn
- 4 medium carrots, julienned
- 1½ cups cooked pasta shells, (about ¾ cup uncooked), drained and cooled
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1 medium red onion
- ¾ pound fully cooked ham, cut in ½ inch cubes
- ⅓ cup shredded Swiss cheese
- ⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup light sour cream
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1½ tsp chopped fresh basil or ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and cut into 8 wedges
- In a 3-1/2 quart glass bowl with straight sides, layer the torn salad greens, carrots, pasta shells, peas, onion, ham, and cheeses.
- In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, basil, salt and pepper. Spoon evenly over the salad.
- Garnish with egg wedges, if desired and a sprinkle of chopped basil.
- Cover with foil and chill for 2 hours.
In any recipe that calls for mayonnaise, I usually use Canola oil mayo, which has half the calories of regular mayonnaise, but tastes better than "light" mayo. I used it in this recipe and it tasted great.
I always use light sour cream instead of regular, because I can't tell a big difference.
Keep this salad covered with foil while chilling, or if you have leftovers. The foil blocks odors better than plastic wrap and will prevent your refrigerator from smelling like onions.
Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home.