Our family loves salads and we try to spread the love to the rest of the world. From the time that the kids were eating solids, salads became a mainstay in the Respler home. It is rare that we make the same salad twice because there are SO many options.
Most recently, when I entertain, I have been creating a salad bar. A salad bar encourages guests to create their own custom salads and it is a great solution for guests with different diets and allergies. The best perk is that when the dust settles and it is time to put everything away, the salad ingredients have not been dressed, so they are still fresh enough for leftovers. My family clamors to create their own lunches for the next few days from what is left over from the salad bar.
In the past, I have been less than successful in creating the perfect salad bar. I had found that the salad ingredients were messy and unruly, with everyone breathing on and touching everything. I have finally found a good solution to creating a neat and orderly salad bar.
I purchased gallon and half-gallon glass candy jars online that can be seated vertically or on an angle. Each jar has a metal lid and plastic tongs that hang right on the lid.
I prepare an assortment of diced peppers, small cherry and grape tomatoes of all colors, spiralized cucumbers, spiralized beets, jicama strips, scallions, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, celery strips, shredded zucchini, quinoa, wheat berries, salted and caramelized nuts, dried fruit and seeds, terra chips, ramen noodles, french fried onions and croutons.
I prepare different types of dressings. Some of my favorite dressing choices are balsamic vinaigrette, basil vinaigrette, spicy mayo, roasted garlic dressing, spicy jalapeno dressing, roasted shallot dressing and light Caesar dressing.
I prepare a large amount of torn lettuce, arugula, spinach and/or bok choy to serve as the field greens for the salad. These, I place in plastic bags with a dry towel at the bottom to catch any additional moisture until ready to use. I then prepare washed and diced vegetables and toppings and store those in plastic bags, too.
Once the salad bar is set up, I place the field greens into large glass salad bowls with tongs.
I then decant all the vegetables and toppings into the jars and cover with the lids until the salad bar is open.
I prepare different types of dressings in advance and decant them into large squeeze bottles. I label the bottles and also put out oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for those salad dressing purists. I place everything on a platter to catch the spills.
The salad bar in candy jars is the perfect way to create custom salads for a crowd, keeping everything neat and contained. The salad bar concept can also be applied to our family meal planning. It allows us to soak, rinse and prepare salad ingredients at the beginning of the week for custom salads for the next few days I can make dressings once a week and squirt just what I need into small containers for ready-to-go lunch salads and directly on salads for dinners at home.
This will significantly reduce the back and forth of all my salad ingredients and seasonings throughout the week. Hopefully, this will promote the love and neat order of salads throughout our home and yours, as well.