July 18th, 2018

The Kosher Gourmet

7 fun new takes on the 7-layer salad

Alysha Witwicki

By Alysha Witwicki Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/ (MCT)

Published August 27, 2014

7 fun new takes on the 7-layer salad
It's the quintessential potluck food: seven-layer salad. With its layers of iceberg lettuce, peas, tomatoes, onions, cheddar cheese, vegan meat and mayonnaise, it's colorful, crunchy and creamy all in one bite.

Food legend has it that it was born out of the South and originally called "seven-layer pea salad."

Although many recipes include hard-cooked eggs and cucumbers (which actually makes a seven-layer salad nine layers), this dish has pretty much remained the same for decades. Until now.

We've decided it's about time this salad got a makeover.

Whether it's different greens, new types of vegetables or a sweet addition, layered salads just got a lot more fun.


The addition of pasta and Parmesan dressing gives an unexpected twist to a traditional seven-layer salad.

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen cheese tortellini

  • 2 cups broccoli florets

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes

  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped

  • 1 can (2 1/4 ounces) sliced black olives, drained

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise

    • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

    • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

    Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.

    In a 2 1/2-quart glass bowl, layer the tortellini, broccoli, tomatoes, celery, olives and cheddar cheese.

    Prepare dressing, whisking together all ingredients. Spoon over salad. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.


    Watermelon isn't a salad ingredient you typically think of outside of fruit salad, but it pairs deliciously with fresh garden tomatoes, arugula and feta cheese. This recipe came courtesy of Rebecca Guralnick, a personal chef, cooking instructor and caterer in Milwaukee.

    "You can really get creative with this salad," she said. "Optional add-ins might include diced, roasted beets, orange segments, shredded carrot, diced avocado.

    "The rule of thumb to maintain a beautiful presentation is to layer from heaviest at the bottom to lightest at the top, but in this case I put the watermelon beneath the tomatoes because it will release the most juice as the salad sits on the table."

    Makes 6 servings

    • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    • 8 cups seedless watermelon, diced into 1 1/4-inch chunks

    • 3 tablespoons chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as dill, basil and mint) (divided)

    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (divided), or to taste

    • About 3 pounds ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom), cored and cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks (6 cups)

    • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

    • 1 cup sprouts (such as sunflower or alfalfa)

    • 5 cups arugula

    • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted

    In a 1-cup glass measure, whisk together oil and vinegar. In a large bowl, toss the watermelon with half the oil-vinegar mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons assorted herbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, toss the tomatoes with remaining olive oil-vinegar mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons herbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

    In a clear glass bowl, layer watermelon, tomatoes, feta cheese, sprouts, arugula and sunflower seeds.


    Seven-layer salad can get a bad nutritional rap. This recipe, adapted from, removes any of the guilt without sacrificing flavor.

    Makes 6 servings

    • 1 package (10 ounces) spring lettuce mix

    • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

    • 2 medium red bell peppers, diced

    • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

    • 6 slices vegan pastrami, cooked and crumbled


    • 1 avocado

    • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    • 2 teaspoons honey

    In a large glass bowl or trifle dish, layer spring mix, beans, peppers and tomatoes. Refrigerate several hours.

    Before serving, layer with cheese and vegan pastrami.

    Blend all dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth and add to top of salad.


    Food blogger Inger Wilkerson (from thinks sweet when it comes to seven layered ingredients. She came up with this dish based on a fruit salad she learned to make while studying abroad in Ireland and living with a Le Cordon Bleu cook.

    "The fruits are pretty interchangeable as long as you use things that are juicy," she said. "With so many colors, it almost can't help but be pretty."

    Makes 8 servings

    • 3 cups diced watermelon

    • 2 cups green grapes, halved

    • 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved

    • 2 peaches, diced

    • 2 cups blueberries

    • 2 cups diced honeydew melon

    • 2 cups diced strawberries

    • 7 teaspoons sugar (divided)
    Place the watermelon on the bottom of a large clear bowl or trifle dish; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Layer grapes on top and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Repeat this process of sprinkling the sugar as you layer the cherries, peaches, blueberries, honeydew melon and strawberries. Refrigerate several hours before serving.


    The seven-layer salad instantly becomes more fun when it's in individual servings. When looking for a container, Mason jars aren't only cute, they're practical. Just pop on a lid, secure the ring and travel anywhere.

    Makes 6 servings

    • 1 cup uncooked wheat berries, rinsed

    • Pinch of salt

    • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

    • 1 1/2 cups diced green bell pepper

    • 1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper

    • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

    • 1 package (12 ounces) edamame


    • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

    • 1/3 cup apple juice

    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

    • 1 tablespoon minced ginger

    • 1 tablespoon lime juice

    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt