Here’s a recipe I invented years ago that has become my potluck staple. The first time I served this to a group of friends, one called it “Janet’s Magic Salad” and the name stuck.
I took this to the end-of-year luncheon at the preschool, and the women drew up a list of names and email addresses with the title “We Want Your Salad Recipe.” Seriously. Raves all around. Every time. Make each component separately; most can be done a day ahead and then you can toss all the ingredients together five minutes before you are ready to go. Serve it without the chicken to use as a side dish.
Janet's Magic Salad
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 cup mayonnaise
1 shallot, halved (or little chopped onion and a couple cloves garlic)
1/4 cup buttermilk (you can add a little more to get the consistency you want)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1 10-ounce package plain couscous, cooked according to package instructions (about 5 cups)
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 diced red bell pepper
2 grilled chicken breast halves, diced
2 cups fresh corn kernels
Blend basil leaves, mayonnaise, and shallot in processor until smooth. Gradually blend in buttermilk and lemon juice. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Toss all ingredients together.