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Vegetable delight: 7 layer salad ensures you'll get all your veggies this holiday season

Liz Martin/The Gazette

This crunchy 7 Layer Salad is simple to make and as loaded with vegetables as it is with versatility. The salad easily can be modified for your tastes.
Liz Martin/The Gazette This crunchy 7 Layer Salad is simple to make and as loaded with vegetables as it is with versatility. The salad easily can be modified for your tastes.

If you need a dish that is fool proof, a little artistic and delicious, this one is great.

It’s so simple that a child could assemble it with very little assistance. With this salad, everyone can be an awesome home chef or at least get a chance to participate more with lunch/dinner, which can mean more funny stories, valuable family time and love to be shared during the holidays or any day.

It also is a great way to allow that one family member who is so challenged that he or she burns boiled water to upgrade from dish duty and setting the table.

An American classic, 7 Layer Salad can be made with a lot of different ingredients — both fresh and frozen. This simple yet delicious salad showcases each ingredient individually even though the recipe requires everything to be mixed together just before serving.

The salty crunch from the bacon, the sweet pop from the peas and the sharpness from the cheddar complements the wonderful crispness of iceberg lettuce and snap of the cauliflower. Once you add your own homemade salad dressing, you’ll have an amazing palate pleasing creation that will win over even the most picky veggie eaters — especially given that the seven layers might contain any veggies you’d like to put in it. This recipe is showcasing my favorite flavor combinations.

Red onions and boiled eggs come into play and the whole salad starts to become quite the entertainer to all of your senses from sight to smell as you assemble the layers of bright colors, tastes and fragrances. This salad is versatile, satisfying and refreshing. It is not expensive to prepare for large groups/events, but the 7 Layer Salad is rich in flavor, character and appearance.

The 7 Layer Salad is so attractive that it could easily double as the centerpiece for your holiday dinner table or any other festive occasion. Having seven vibrant layers beautifully assembled in a glass bowl or in a beautiful tart bowl placed on a decorative dinner table setting will wow friends and family as it brightens your festivities. I love how the purple from the onions accent the pretty pale green of the lettuce and complements the alluring brown of the crispy chopped bacon — so many textures, shapes and flavors in this one delicious salad.

This salad surely will remind you that not all comfort foods are warm, ooey or gooey. Comfort foods also can be creamy, crunchy and cool. I always have found comfort in these seven layers of crispy, sweet and crunchy goodness that is a Southern classic.

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I am a veggie lover, so I may be a bit biased in regard to how amazing this salad is. How could you not love a salad that is boundless? You could make it vegan. You could choose veggies with colors that match a theme. Honestly, this salad’s only limit seems to be veggies.

Wherever the ingredients come from — a market, a local store or even your own garden — have fun and experiment. Enjoy food, enjoy making food. Now get started chopping, mixing and assembling your next culinary masterpiece.

• Michelle Madden of Cedar Rapids has a catering business called Tastefully Made Creations (www.facebook.com/TastefullyMadeCreations).

7 LAYER SALAD

1 pound bacon cooked and chopped

1 large head of iceberg lettuce

1 red onion

1 (10 ounces) frozen sweet peas

10 ounces shredded cheese

1 cup cauliflower chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

3 boiled eggs (optional and can be chopped or sliced

Cherry tomatoes

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Crumble and set aside.

In large flat bowl, place the chopped lettuce and top with a layer of onion, peas, shredded cheese, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, bacon and boiled eggs (sliced or chopped).

Prepare dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, sugar and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle over salad and refrigerate until chilled.

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