Make-Ahead Salad Casserole

We love going to and hosting parties, and get excited thinking about what we’re going to make or bring to fun get-togethers with friends. Sometimes it’s cakes or cookies, sometimes it’s a hot casserole that just needs to be popped in the oven to warm up. But more often that not, it’s something that we can make ahead of time, then grab on our way out the door as we head to the party; anything that gives us back some time in our day, so we don’t have to run around frantically right before hosting. Which is why we’ve added this make-ahead salad “casserole” to our recipe repertoire – easy and delicious and we can just throw the dressing on before serving it!

All right, so obviously salads in general are pretty great for customizing, so if you see something that doesn’t quite speak to you, swap it out! But for us, this recipe makes the tastiest salad that’s a great addition to a potluck table laden down with potato and pasta dishes; you need something green to balance it all out! We used iceberg lettuce – great backdrop for any yummy salad – peas, Swiss cheese, green onions and chopped bacon…a subtle, but flavorful combination that the creamy dressing coats perfectly. Speaking of which, we kept it simple with a mayo and miracle whip dressing (with just a touch of sugar), keeping the focus on the tasty salad.

So the great thing about this is that you can mix all your main salad ingredients together and throw ‘em right in a 9×13. Whisk together your dressing ingredients and put that in a sealable container to take with you. If your casserole dish has a lid, all the better, otherwise just throw some plastic wrap or aluminum foil on top to seal everything in for the journey and you’ll be good to go. Dress the salad 15 minutes before serving and toss it all together – boom, make-ahead salad casserole! Does it get any better? We think not.

1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 (8 oz.) package frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 cup Swiss cheese, cut into cubes
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup bacon bits
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup miracle whip
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, miracle whip and sugar, then season to taste with salt and black pepper.
To chop the iceberg lettuce, smash the stem of the lettuce on the counter to loosen it, then push it into the lettuce until it releases. Discard stem, then chop lettuce and place in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Add thawed and drained peas, diced Swiss cheese and green onions, then pour dressing over mixture. Toss together until everything is evenly coated.
Top with bacon bits, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap if serving later.