I have had a real craving for sushi lately, in particular I have been looking for the balanced heat from the wasabi paste. I love wasabi, and I have only had the real root paste while living in Dallas when a friend of a friend was the owner of a killer Japanese sushi house. I still love the powder that you can buy, adding a bit of water, and making it into a simple paste. I love how the heat opens your sinuses, and has just the right heat to rattle your cage. With that said, I knew I had some of the powder, and really wanted to do something with it, without any nori, or rice.
We recently hosted our usual family gathering over the weekend, which is typically spur of the moment, and prompting the family with ‘Want to come over for dinner?’. This is usually an easy sell as no one has to cook (but me), and we gather around the table for a few hours telling stories and getting some really good laughs in. So when I prompted the question, and everyone agreed to come over, I had no plan. Maybe that is what I was looking for, a five challenge.
As my wife has been on the verge of begging me for meatloaf, I thought, how about an Italian meatloaf, but it needed a salad. I immediately thought of a classic. The seven layer salad, but with a twist; a wasabi mayonnaise dressing. This allowed me to satisfy most everyone. My wife could get her meatloaf on, my mother-in-law loved a recent lasagna I made with fresh basil and homemade sauce, (I would use those flavors in the meatloaf), and I could slide in my wasabi paste!
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce, cleaned, dried, rough chop
- 1/2 head of Boston bibb lettuce, cleaned, dried, rough chop
- 5 leaves of romaine lettuce, cleaned, dried, rough chop
- 4 ribs of celery, cleaned, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, diced
- bunch of scallions, white and green part, thinly sliced
- 2 hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cup of frozen peas
- 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cup of good mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp of wasabi powder, with a few tablespoons of water mixed to make a paste (let sit for about 10 minutes)
- 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
- 8 slices of smoked bacon, cooked, and crumbled
OK. Let’s face it, when you hear cheese, and bacon, that is typically a winner, but when you add mayonnaise, people start to question the health factor. Looking at the recipe however, there is some really great ingredients in there, and plenty of vegetables, which make for a nice balance. This classic salad, with the wasabi mayonnaise is a serious contender with any picnic salad, or dinner salad, plus who can go wrong with the presentation!
First, if you do not have a nice glass bowl, go get one. They are only about six dollars, if that. The beauty behind the salad is not only the flavors, but also the presentation. Trust me, your guests are taken back to their childhood days, and are reminded of what goes into this great salad.
Start with half of the lettuce mixture on the bottom. Then add half of the celery, then the green onion, the red bell pepper, the peas, cucumbers, the eggs, then repeat. Finish with the peas. Mix your wasabi paste into the mayonnaise and add the honey. Mix well. Mix your cooked and crumbled bacon with the cheese. Carefully spread the mayonnaise mixture onto the top of the peas. Top with the bacon and cheese mixture.
Sorry, but now you have to wait. You have to cover this up with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. This will allow all of those layers to set in and create something wonderful. When you are ready to serve, get a big spoon out, and get to the bottom, and scoop upward.
It’s funny, as I sat back and watched the table, everyone was really going after this wonderful salad, more than once! The classic salad, with just a subtle kick of the wasabi, really pulled this classic out of the closet and into the modern day home. Enjoy.