7 In Main Courses/ Salads

Salad Bar

Salad Bar

Not everyone loves vegetables, but most people can get behind a good salad bar. We love the concept of salad bar at home — something about calling it “salad bar’ makes it more glamorous. And there are certain toppings that scream “salad bar” and make it even more special – like peas, hard-boiled eggs, or cottage cheese (or bacon bits, really!).

The key to making a salad bar at home? Allow some prep time for all the vegetables; it does take a bit of time for cleaning and chopping. But once you’ve completed the prep, you’re done! We like preparing extra veggies to use for lunches or dinners for days later. If you’re a hard-boiled egg fan like we are, make sure to leave enough time for easy prep (about 30 minutes total). Another key is a good dressing! We’ve included some examples from our site in the recipe below, but check your favorite blogs for other great ideas. {We tried a riff on our ranch dip for this photo, but it didn’t quite turn out – anyone have any good healthy ranch dressing recipes?}

This idea was inspired by my dear best friend Kelly, who served us a delicious salad bar on a recent visit to Minnesota. Our friendship is 17+ years in the running and still as strong as ever, through high school boyfriends, breakups, college, weddings, and now, she’s nearing the birth of her first child!  It’s such a privilege to walk through life together. On the eve of her birthday, this post goes out to Kelly – thank you for your constant encouragement and support!

Salad Bar
Salad bar is a meal concept, not a recipe: get creative and customize your toppings based on your preferences and what you have on hand! Add cooked meat for a non-vegetarian option. For a vegetarian option, be sure to include enough protein-filled items to satisfy, like eggs, chickpeas, cheese, and nuts.
What You Need
  • Salad greens: lettuce, spinach, mixed greens
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cooked chickpeas
  • Vegetables: carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, red onion, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans
  • Cheese cubes
  • Croutons
  • Cottage cheese
  • Salad dressing
What To Do
  1. Make the hard-boiled eggs (can be prepared in advance).
  2. Wash and chop the vegetables; place them in serving bowls.
  3. Drain the chickpeas, if using.
  4. Make the dressing: for example, simple basic vinaigrette, honey mustard vinaigrette, Laura's house dressing, lemon poppy seed, honey balsamic, or blue cheese vinaigrette.


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  • Reply
    Belinda @themoonblushbaker
    August 14, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    This is such a fun take on lunch especially when it is so hot in summer. Fresh ingredients alway makes people happy; I am feeling good just look at this photo!

    I find this idea works great at kids parties. I did this once for my niece and her garden theme party. So creative!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2013 at 12:17 am

    This looks amazing! So fresh and healthy. I love all the options!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    August 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I need to get on this! Love all the colours!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Ooh, a home salad bar is a perfect idea for a sumer party! Everyone always loves the salad bar, and it’s definitely a great way to beat the heat. :)

  • Reply
    August 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    what a great idea. we usually eat our meal in pieces like this any way so making it an official salad bar experience would not be a stretch… just would need more goodies to add to the mix.

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ BigBitesLittleBudget
    August 16, 2013 at 11:12 am

    What a fun idea! I am such a fan of salad bars. I love getting to add just enough of all my favorites and end up with a bowl loaded with tons of veggies and a few surprises.

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    August 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Fun idea! I don’t know why I haven’t done anything like this with my kids. They’re usually so good about eating the salads I make but I can just imagine they’d have so much fun doing this! And really, who doesn’t love having so many delicious options? :D

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    Happy Cooking! ~ Sonja & Alex