Monday, July 16, 2012

Layered Salad with Ham, Pasta, Broccoli and Home Made Buttermilk Dressing - No cooking required

Summertiiiiiiiime, and the livin' is easy.  (Sing with me now),  Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high........ .  Who doesn't love this song by George Gershwin?  It certainly idealizes summer and is a truly beautiful song, BUT this summer has been more like.....  Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty, All around people looking half dead, walking on a sidewalk hotter than a match head.  Yeahhhhhhhhhhh.  Thank you Lovin' Spoonful, Summer in the City is one of my all time favorite songs.  I know I left out a few lines, but you get the picture.

This summer as been hot, hotter and then hottest.  We were in triple digits for several weeks and that was before July 4th.  Besides being hotter than a match head, it was dryer than dry.  No rain.  Grass looked like late August, crops are drying up and our garden was really suffering.  Even though we watered it every day, it's just not the same as a good soaking rain.  Happily, I can report that we had almost 6 inches of rain last week and the grass and garden are looking so much better.  We are supposed to have more rain this week which will certainly make it all better.  Corn and soybeans on the other hand, may not be salvaged.  I feel so bad for all the farmers.  

Since it has been so hot, who wants to cook?  We even had a grilling ban so it was the kitchen or nothing.  Fortunately, I found this wonderful recipe for a layered salad in my Food Network magazine that my two dear friends, Don and Rick, gave me for Christmas.  What a wonderful gift this has been.  
Unfortunately, I am not a food stylist and my picture doesn't look nearly as good as the one in the magazine, but the recipe is fantastic and it requires absolutely NO cooking.  It is a complete meal in one bowl and it's cool, crispy, crunchy, and delicious.  It even has protein in it.   What more could you ask for on these hot summer days?

Here is what you need.

8 ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta, about 4 cups,  I used gluten free fusilli so our son in love could eat it)
2 stalks broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used basil and thyme from my herb garden instead of parsley)
juice of 1 lime
freshly ground pepper
2 avocados, diced
1 12 ounce piece of deli ham, diced (about 2 cups)
8 ounces yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small head romaine lettuce, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced  ( I used cherry tomatoes from our garden because big tomatoes were not ripe yet)
I also added some sliced radishes from our garden.

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to directions until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the label directs).  Add broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking.  (The recipe says last 4 minutes, but I thought it made the broccoli too squishy, I like it crunchy).  Drain the pasta and broccoli and rinse under cool water; shake off the excess.  Remove the broccoli and pat dry.

2.  Whisk the mayonnaise, buttermilk, 1/4 cup chives, herbs, half of the lime juice, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.  Toss the pasta in a few tablespoons of the dressing in a medium bowl.

3.  Assemble the salad;  Toss the avocados with the remaining lime juice in a large glass serving bowl and season with salt.  Arrange in an even layer.  Top with layers of the ham, broccoli, pasta, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.  Drizzle some of the remaining dressing on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of chives or cover and refrigerate the salad and dressing separately up to 6 hours.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

This salad is so good and the dressing is divine.  Spoon more dressing over the salad when you are ready to eat.  

Here are a couple of changes I would make.  I would add bacon to this salad.  I would put a layer of crisp fried bacon that had been crumbled on top of the lettuce.  Yum.  I know that requires cooking, but it would be worth it.  Also, I would make the bottom layer the ham and put the avocado higher in the salad so it didn't stick together in the bottom of the bowl.  Just a suggestion.  Other than that, you have one delicious salad with no cooking required which is more than perfect for hot summer days.  I know there are other layered salad recipes around and I have made a few, but this one is so good with the broccoli and pasta and the delicious buttermilk dressing.  My daughter just kept saying, I have to make this, it's so good.  

Thank you Food Network magazine for a wonderful summertime recipe.  They list total prep time as 30 minutes and it serves 8 if it's a main course, or many more if you use it as a side to another entree.  Be sure and reach all the way to the bottom when serving so you get all the goodness in the salad.  You don't want to miss any of it.  I have also made this dressing for other salads, it's that good.  

Next time it's too hot, too hot, too hot baby, give this salad a try - especially if you have absolutely NO desire to turn on the stove but want something really, really good to eat.  Try it, you'll like it and if you don't eat it all, you have left overs!  Yes!!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”
― Charles Bowden

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