Tuesday, May 17, 2016
The refrigerator salad bar
I love salad bars. They were my favorite type of restaurant when I was younger. I loved having so many items to choose from, to fill my plate. And now, my two daughters also love salad bars.
We do something, here at our house, to replicate that restaurant salad bar. I've created a constantly changing salad bar in my fridge.
There's the basis for most salads, the leafy greens. I'm trying to keep the salad spinner filled with leafy greens from our garden, all washed, torn and ready to eat. This week, is a combination of green leaf lettuce and baby spinach. If the greens are ever all taken for the day, everyone in the family knows they can simply go out to the garden and pick a few leaves.
Then there's all of the toppings. It changes from week to week. Sometimes it incorporates leftovers that need using. That last little bit of cooked veggies, stale bread made into croutons, an open jar of pickles or some olives. I try to keep a couple of protein sources in there, too, like cooked garbanzo beans, peeled boiled eggs, shredded cheese, or toasted nuts or seeds. And lots of raw veggies, like shredded carrots, tomatoes, sliced cucumber or celery, shredded cabbage, or radish slices. And sometimes, I add some chicken salad, turkey salad, potato salad, pasta salad, 3 bean salad, or egg salad.
For a long time, the salad bar ingredients were rather haphazardly kept in various parts of the fridge. This year, I finally got smart and corralled them all in a plastic, easy to wash, lightweight to lift, but sturdy to support and hold, shoebox. Family members can simply grab the salad bar box, the salad spinner of greens and the dressing. I keep most of the ingredients in glass or plastic jars (see-through is the key to get those items eaten), and items like the croutons and nuts/seeds in ziploc baggies, resting on top.
I keep at least one bottle of homemade dressing next to the salad bar in the fridge.
Having all of the ingredients washed, peeled, chopped, sliced or mixed, and ready to use, makes for very easy to throw together snacks and lunches. It's a great way to make sure we're grabbing healthy stuff, using what's in the garden, and taking care of leftovers. And then, towards the end of each week, I can use up those stragglers, the last odds and ends, in a pot of soup, or a large salad for the family.
This week's salad bar has leafy greens, shredded carrot, sliced celery, sliced olives, cooked garbanzo beans, an open jar of mild pepper rings, peeled boiled eggs (they're more likely to get used if I peel them), shredded cabbage, whole wheat croutons and sunflower seeds, with a dressing of homemade vinaigrette.