Where I live, we’ve been having one of the hottest, driest summers on record. When the weather is hot like this, I turn to ‘no cooking required’ meals. A salad bar works well for my family. I just set out a variety of items in buffet style and let everyone create their own salad. (And if I’m lucky, I can avoid a trip to the grocery store by using the items I have on hand.)
Start with vegetables. Set out a large bowl of MIXED SALAD GREENS. In small bowls include sliced or chopped vegetables such as CUCUMBERS, SWEET PEPPERS, TOMATOES or CARROTS. Consider adding whole SUGAR SNAP PEAS or BABY CORN (canned). These options are just a starting point. What’s in your refrigerator crisper drawer or your pantry?
Next, add a protein option such as COTTAGE CHEESE, SHREDDED SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE or CANNED GARBANZO BEANS to your buffet.
Fresh or canned fruit is a nice addition. Set out a bowl of SLICED PEACHES or PEARS. Dried fruit on salads adds a concentrated sweetness and tartness I love. Try DRIED CRANBERRIES or DRIED MONTMORENCY CHERRIES (my favorite! — find them at Trader Joe’s).
Nuts or seeds add texture and nutrients, such as essential fatty acids. Try LIGHTLY SWEETENED PECANS or LIGHTLY SALTED PUMPKIN SEEDS.
Add a vinaigrette type item to your buffet such as PICKLED BEETS, MARINATED THREE BEAN SALAD (the canned is great — low in calories and zero fat) or a jar of ARTICHOKE HEARTS. You may tend to use less salad dressing when you add these vinaigrette items. I know I do. And I really like salad dressing.
Speaking of SALAD DRESSING, we all know this is where the entire healthy salad can go south. However, the combination of the above items creates a salad with so much flavor and interest, I think you’ll find a small amount of dressing will go a long way. My recommendation is not a specific brand name of dressing, but a dressing with ‘real food’ ingredients and few additives. You sometimes pay a little more but it’s worth it.
Balance out your salad with baked CROUTONS or serve some small slices of WHOLE GRAIN ARTISAN-TYPE BREAD on the side.
Happy summer! Healthy eating!~~~ Looking for more summer salad ideas? Check out my GREEK SALAD. ~~~