Salads are great any time of year but in Florida during those hot, humid summer days, they are absolutely refreshing. A salad bar at a Party offers so many great options and can also cover those who are looking for lower fat intake, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, diabetic or simply wanting to fit into their bathing suits and watching their weight. You can include a variety of fruits, vegetable and proteins and have a beautiful, colorful good for you salad bar enjoyed by all.
Start with the base of the salad, the Lettuce. It is easier to pick great lettuce these days at your local grocery store with many options that are already washed and ready to go. Have a separate plate or bowl for each one.
You could offer a variety of three types and let your guests mix and match or just choose to have one.
Romaine – Crisp and has high nutrition value
Radicchio – a bit bitter and has a lovely marble red and white color
Arugula (nickname rocket) has a light peppery flavor.
Spring Greens Mix – a variety of flavors and color and you could easily add fresh kale or spinach to liven it up even more.
Fresh Herbs like Basil, Cilantro, Thyme, Parsley gives your lettuces a boost of flavor. You can tear the leaves of each and have available to add to the lettuce or top a salad.
This is the fun part of the salad, adding more flavor. Be creative and offer a good number of toppings like veggies, fruits, nuts, cheeses, legumes and proteins.
Here are some ideas:
Choose at least five vegetables.
Cherry Tomatoes – (officially a fruit) cut them in half to make it easier to eat. No one like to chase that round tomato around their plate.
Cucumber – slice thin or cube
Mushrooms – White button or Cremini there are lots of varieties to choose from
Radish’s – It may be a bit strong with the peppery flavor for some guest, so slice them very thin
Scallions/Green Onions – Both the white and green parts are delicious
Red Onions – Offer great flavor and color, slice thin
Carrots – Adds a bit of sweetness to the salad. Slice thin
Zucchini – Slice in rounds or cubes
Broccoli – loaded with vitamins and adds crunch. Cut into small trees for easy eating
Bell Peppers – Red, Yellow, Orange or Green offers great color and taste. Slice thin or cube them.
Shredded Cabbage – Adds crunch, flavor and color. Choose green or purple
Jicama – Has a sweet and nutty flavor and adds crunch and fiber
Fennel – Has a Licorice flavor and crunch
Choose at least three fruits.
Apples – adds sweetness and many to choose from. Cut into bite size pieces or slice thin
Pears – adds sweetness and fiber. Slice thin
Strawberries – Wash the day you are going to use them. Cut off the leaves and slice thin
Pineapple – Adds citrus and vitamin C. Cut into cubes
Mango – Sweet and healthy. Slice up or cut into cubes
Watermelon – sweet and juicy they will add great flavor to any salad. Cut into small cubes
Mozzarella – shredded or small pearl mozzarella
Parmesan – Makes a great nutty flavor topping. Slice thin
Feta – Greek Cheese that has a mild bite
Goat Cheese – Made from goats’ milk and has a tangy flavor
Choose at least three proteins.
Adding a variety of proteins like beans, meats and vegetable-based proteins allows you to cater to everyone.
Chicken – Boneless, skinless, grilled or broiled will go well as a topping to your salad bar. You can also buy already cooked chicken in the freezer isle of the grocery store. Heat per instructions.
Roast beef – For an easy way to add this topping, visit your local deli and have them slice it for you.
Ham – You could purchase a cut of ham from the deli and cut into cubes’
Bacon – Cooked crisp and crumbled makes a delicious topping.
Black Beans – Are popular with rice, salsa and make a great topping for protein in a salad
Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans – Add a nutty flavor
Cannellini Beans – Soft and creamy bean with a light flavor
Tempeh – Soybean product that is high in protein. Comes in different flavors. You could try the maple bacon tempeh for a substitute for a bacon topping.
Tofu – Soybean product that is made from soybeans, high in protein.
Nuts add crunch and flavor. Buy them in a variety, flavored or raw.
Dressings – Sweet, sour, salty, cheesy, fat free and oil and vinegar are a great variety. Put the dressings into bowls with ladles so your guest can pour the dressing over their salad easily.
Croutons – Plain and flavored
Bread – A good crusty bread or rolls
Crackers – Offer a variety, saltines, Ritz or a gourmet cracker
Set up your Salad Bar with Plates, Silverware, Napkins at the beginning of the bar. Have all the food in separate dishes starting with lettuces, toppings, fruits, proteins, cheeses and then nuts. For each one have spoons, forks, tongs or what is easy to use for them to get the food to their plate.
Have bowls with ice under the bowls of food to keep it cold longer (no one like wilted lettuce…) and keeps it from spoiling.
Keep spare lettuce in the refrigerator and replace as needed as well as toppings that need that attention.