DIY Salad Bar
Given that this is the first post of the year, I’m feeling a little push to come up with something profound. For kicks I took a peek at what I wrote this time last year and it wasn’t remotely inspiring….just a few words on sustainable seafood. But the blog was brand new then, and the only ones reading were my parents (who had no choice in the matter), my husband (ditto), and a handful of supportive friends.
Now quite a few of you are tuning in, so there’s a touch more pressure to come up with something ground breaking or at least mildly thought provoking. But having stumbled upon so many other thoughtful pieces over the past few days, I don’t feel so compelled. There’s this smart take on why you might want to think twice before diving headlong into a New Year’s diet, and this lovely essay on food and family and getting a little quieter in 2012.
An Easy Way to Do Dinner
So I’ll stay out of the contemplative realm and keep things shamelessly straightforward with what’s really on my mind: getting dinner on the table tonight. Because no matter how philosophical we can all get at the launch of a New Year, there’s still the practical matter of feeding a family.
Use What You’ve Got
This little DIY Salad Bar, while ever so slightly “1980’s Round Table Pizza,” is the ideal answer to dinner following the holidays. Most of us are looking to lighten things up a bit anyway, while at the same time use all the leftover bits and bobs in the refrigerator: the last of the gorgeous bosc pears sent from a distant auntie, the tin of toasted almonds Mr. Mom’s Kitchen brought home from a client, the remainder of the New Year’s Day ham, the salad greens from last week’s CSA box, a chunk of cheese from the gougeres we made for Christmas.
When my fridge gets to such a state, I pull everything out and get chopping. The result is a simple, make-your-own salad bar.
Choose a Favorite Dressing
You can keep it as simple as putting out oil and vinegar and letting everyone dress them own salad. If you have a favorite bottled dressing, that’s fair game, too. Below you’ll find recipes for a variety of homemade dressings to fill out your salad bar a bit more.
DIY Salad Bar
- 4 to 6 generous handfuls of greens , such as lettuce, spinach, dark leafies, and/or chicories
- 1 1/2 to 3 cups raw vegetables or leftover cooked vegetables
- 1/2 to 1 cup fresh fruit , such as chopped apples or pears, berries, or sectioned citrus fruits
- 1 to 2 cups beans , legumes, and/or grains
- 1 to 2 cups other protein-rich foods , such as cooked chicken, turkey, hard boiled egg, tuna, salmon, beef, tofu, pork, ham, or lamb
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded , crumbled, or cubed cheese, such as feta, Cheddar, Swiss, blue, or goat cheese
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup nuts and/or seeds , such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup fruit such as raisins , dried cranberries, chopped apricot, chopped dried plums
- Favorite dressings
Start by portioning out all of your ingredients into little bowls or ramekins and set them on the table. Grab the kids to help with this one.
Make a salad dressing and/or pull out whatever bottled options you have on hand. It's a plus to offer a choice, even if it's just a bottle of olive oil and vinegar.
Set one big bowl on the table with a pair of salad tongs and a stack of serving plates.
Let each family member fill a plate with all their favorite salad fixings, put it into the big bowl, drizzle on some dressing, and toss each salad individually. The kids like doing this on their own.
Any leftovers can be tossed together for lunch box salads for the next day.