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Seven Layer Pasta Salad

Picnic and potluck season has just met it's brand new arm candy:

The seven layer salad. 

Avocados tossed with lime and salt, lovely ham steak, fresh broccoli florets, whole wheat pasta, crispy lettuce, cheddar cheese cubes, and juicy tomatoes. All beautifully adorned with the most heavenly herbed white dressing. This salad is such a win, I can't even think straight. 

At first it pulls you in by it's look alone. The colors were just enough to wet our whistle, and I felt as though it would be a crime to dig in for lunch/dinner. But I'm glad I didn't put it off to long - the taste is really what stole the show. There's just something so bright and fresh with that simple dressing. It was not only soft in taste, but had it's own special way of showing off the best side of each salad ingredient. 

I made a couple physical changes to the recipe. I thought cubed cheese would be a fun echo of the cubed ham, versus using the cheese in shredded form. Also, I used whole wheat pasta, instead of white flour farfalle. As for the broccoli, I didn't throw it into the pasta water as prescribed, but left it in it's beautifully raw form. Broccoli has a tendency of bleeding its flavor into whatever it touches. I wanted the rest of the salad to have a fighting change, and loved the crunch it added on a bed of the other soft ingredients. 

7-Layer Pasta Salad
makes about 8 servings

kosher salt
8 ounces of pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
2 stalks broccoli
2 avocados, diced
12 oz ham steak, diced (about 2 cups)
8 oz mild cheddar cheese, diced
1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
Juice from 1 lime, separated
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C buttermilk
1/4 C + 1 T fresh chives, chopped
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cook according to directions on the package. Drain and rinse. Set aside.
2. Make dressing: In a mini food processor, blend together mayo, buttermilk, 1/4 C chives and parsley, half the lime juice, 1/4 t salt and pepper to taste. Add about 2 tablespoons of the dressing to the pasta and toss. Set aside.
3. Assemble the salad: Toss avocados with remaining lime juice and season with salt. Place in bottom of a large glass dish in an even layer. Next, layer the rest of the ingredients: ham, broccoli, pasta, lettuce, cheese, and tomato. I tried to separate the green ingredients with the other layers, but you can layer it any way you please, really. If serving immediately, drizzle with some of the remaining dressing (as much or little as desired) and sprinkle with remaining chives. If serving later, store the dressing separately, and drizzle later. Can be refrigerated up to 6 hours - remember, those avocados can't stay fresh and green forever.

Recipe adapted from: the food network magazine, 2013

I usually never post pictures of the Manchild on here, but I'm pretty sure this little guy is the most delicious photobomber I've ever seen. 


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