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Make-Ahead Red-Leaf Lettuce Salad


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Cuisine: Salad Vegetarian

Perfect for: Office potlucks, summer parties.
Make and take: Assemble up to a day ahead of time; toss just before serving.
Made famous by: Elly Wencka of Tampa, who got the recipe from a co-worker at a law firm where she worked nearly 30 years ago. "I bring this salad to at least four potlucks a year, where there are always three to five macaroni/spaghetti dishes and few fresh foods, " she said. "The red-leaf lettuce doesn't wilt like iceberg."

Hands on time: 15 minutes  Total time: 15 minutes  Serves: 10

Ingredients:

    12 cups fresh red-leaf lettuce, rinsed and dried
    1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
    1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
    8 ounces Swiss cheese, cut into bite-size strips
    1 cup frozen peas, defrosted enough to break up the clumps
    6 thin slices red onion
    Freshly ground black pepper
    4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled,
    (or 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed dry)
    1 lemon, cut into wedges

Instructions:

In a 9-by-13-inch glass dish or large salad bowl, place half the lettuce leaves. Using half the mayonnaise, dollop the leaves with small globs (about 1/4 teaspoon each) of mayonnaise. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon sugar (skip the sugar if you are using Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise). Top the lettuce leaves with half the cheese, half the peas and half the onion slices. Repeat the layers with the remaining lettuce, mayonnaise, sugar, cheese, peas and onion. Season with pepper to taste. Top the salad with the bacon; cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve (the peas will defrost in the refrigerator). At serving time, toss the salad well. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over each serving.

Notes:

Don't forget the salad tongs. Wencka says that romaine lettuce leaves work well, too. If you'd like to turn this into a vegetarian-friendly dish, substitute 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (the kind that are packed dry, not in oil) for the bacon.

This simple tossed salad is flavorful and beautiful, and it's always nice to see fresh veggies at a potluck.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 205 calories (percent of calories from fat, 72), 9 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 27 milligrams cholesterol, 184 milligrams sodium

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