Seven Layer Pasta Salad

img_0635RECIPE #434, DAY #601


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “7-Layer Pasta Salad,” from Food Network Magazine, July/August 2012*

TIMING: 30 minutes

DIFFICULTY: Easy enough

TOOLS: A glass serving bowl, a pot to boil pasta, spider, whisk, small bowl, etc.

COOK TYPE: Stovetop, although best served chilled

HEALTH: This salad has about equal pluses and minuses. Plus: raw veggies, buttermilk, herbs, healthy fat, protein. Minus: mayonnaise, white pasta, cured meat, cheese. It’s a crowd pleaser, for sure.img_0633

EXPERIENCE: A few things. First, I made this salad at the wrong time of year. It was just super-appealing, but it felt way too off-season once we made it. For that reason, and the next one I’m going to give you, this salad would make a great potluck offering for a summer barbecue.

The other things are, it made way too much and did not keep at all. For dinner for four. Again, this makes it a great thing to take along to a potluck, or a picnic to share. If you really want it for dinner, you’ll need to half the recipe. Just trust me.

img_0632NOTES: Do not confuse this with Seven Layer Salad, which is a Betty Crocker recipe which I love and includes a sweet creamy dressing and greens, veggies, bacon, and cheese. Yum! They have similarities, but taste oh so different.

I can appreciate what they were doing, putting the avocado and ham on the bottom of this salad, but it just didn’t work for me. It was too difficult to get to the ham and avocado, which was of course everyone’s favorite thing. In my opinion, you just have to run the risk of people taking the best stuff first, and also of the avocado oxidizing faster.

I used a white cheddar, but a nice yellow or orange cheddar would work better visually here.

DO NOT add the avocado or dressing until you are ready to serve. If you are taking this to a party, dice up the avocado and finish the salad on site.


  1. In a large pot of salted water, cook 8 ounces farfalle according to package directions. For the last 4 minutes of cooking, add 2 heads broccoli cut into florets.Right before the pasta is done, scoop the broccoli out of the water with a spider. Set aside.
  2. Drain the pasta and cool off with cold water. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup chopped chives, 1/4 cup minced parsley, the juice of 1/2 lime, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the pasta with a few tablespoons of the dressing and set both aside.
  4. Place pasta in the bottom of a glass bowl and spread out evenly. Top evenly with layers of the broccoli, 8 ounces shredded cheddar, 12 ounces diced ham, 1 small head chopped lettuce, 2 diced tomatoes, 2 diced avocados tossed with juice of 1/2 lime, and the drizzled dressing.


Serve with other sides and salads at a summer potluck or picnic.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: This won’t keep, so only make as much as you are sure everyone will eat. In an emergency, you could disassemble and store that way, discarding the avocado. That would not be ideal.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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