You build these salads in layers (the night before if you like)
The technique of layering keeps the leafy greens in these two main-dish salads crisp and attractive as long as overnight.
Ingredients that bathe in dressings are arranged in the bottom of a deep salad bowl. The crisp, fresh greens go on top, separated from the dressing both by gravity and ingredients such as cooked vegetables or cheese.
This type of salad is a good candidate to take to a picnic or a potluck; cover the salad and keep it cool in an insulated chest to transport. A made-ahead salad is also ideal for occasions when you don’t have time for last-minute details.
In the first salad, pale gold split peas in a shallot dressing make a flavorful and bright contrast to the roasted red peppers and green romaine.
The makings of a nicoise salad–potatoes, green beans, tuna, lettuce, and anchovies in a creamy dressing–are stratified in the second recipe.
Serve with crusty bread, butter, and white wine such as a dry Gewurztraminer, dry Chenin Blanc, or dry Sauvignon Blanc. Add fruit for dessert and you have an informal meal for 6 to 8.
Tiered Salad with Split Peas
1 package (12 oz., or 1 3/4 cups) yellow split peas Water Shallot dressing (recipe follows) Salt and pepper
3 medium-size red bell peppers or large fresh pimientos
3 cups (3/4 lb.) shredded Swiss cheese
2 quarts lightly packed shredded romaine
1 cup sliced radishes
Sort peas and discard debris. Rinse peas and put in a 5- to 6-quart pan. Add 2 quarts water and bring to a boil; cover and simmer gently until peas are just tender to bite, about 15 minutes. Drain water and discard.
Add shallot dressing to peas; let cool to room temperature. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, place peppers in an 8- or 9-inch cake or pie pan. Broil 2 inches from heat until skin is charred, turning as needed (takes about 25 minutes). Enclose hot peppers in a paper or plastic bag and let stand until cool. Pull off skin and stems and remove seeds; discard. Slice peppers in thin strips.
In a deep 4- to 5-quart salad bowl (use a glass bowl if you want to see salad layers), spread peas with dressing in an even layer; cover with peppers, cheese, lettuce, and radishes.
Mix salad and serve; or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate as long as overnight, then mix just before serving. Serves 6 to 8.
Shallot dressing. Mix together 3/4 cup salad oil, 1/3 cup white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots, 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, 2 cloves garlic (minced or pressed), and 1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon. Use, or let stand up to 2 hours.
Layered Nicoise Salad
1 1/2 pounds small thin-skinned potatoes (1 1/2-in. diameter), scrubbed Water
Anchovy dressing (recipe follows) Salt and pepper
1 pound green beans, ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream
1 large can (12 1/2 oz.) chunk tuna, drained
5 hard-cooked eggs, thinly sliced
2 quarts lightly packed washed and crisped butter lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
In a 5- to 6-quart covered pan, steam potatoes on a rack over boiling water until tender when pierced, about 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from pan and let stand until just cool enough to touch. Peel potatoes if you like, then cut into 1/4-inch slices into a deep 4- to 5-quart salad bowl (use a glass bowl if you want to see salad layers). Add anchovy dressing and season potatoes to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand until cooled to room temperature. In the same pan, steam beans on a rack over boiling water, covered, until they turn bright green and are tender to bite, about 10 minutes. At once, immerse beans in ice water; when chilled, drain and pat dry.
Add mayonnaise and sour cream to potatoes and stir to mix. Lay beans on potatoes. Break tuna in pieces and distribute equally over beans; top with eggs, then lettuce.
Mix salad and serve; or cover and chill as long as overnight, then mix just before serving. Serves 6 to 8.
Anchovy dressing. Stir together until well blended 3/4 cup salad oil, 1/2 cup each finely chopped parsley and lemon juice, 1 small red onion (finely chopped), 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon drained capers, 4 canned anchovy fillets (minced), 1 large clove garlic (minced or pressed), and 1/4 teaspoon dill weed. Use, or let stand up to 4 hours.
Photo: Tiered summer salad consists of yellow split peas in dressing, with roasted peppers, Swiss cheese, romaine, and radishes stacked above
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