Salad bars can be grand, like in hotels. They can also be on a smaller scale, similar to salad boards in family dinners and lunches. Whichever way, your salad bar can be the center of attention when prepared with love and a lot of forethought.
A salad bar changes the way you operate your restaurant or when you rent one for a get-together with this new create-your-own culinary adventure. Who knows, with your salad bar, you might just be able to convince that one guest who absolutely hates greens that it’s not so bad after all.
However, there are many things to consider when setting up a salad bar beyond just the aesthetic appeal of the vegetables’ various colors. You neither want them wet and soggy nor do you also want your ingredients to look dry. This means having the right equipment, such as a refrigerated bain marie, ingredients apart from vegetables, and the right salad-making skills too.
Motivating your guests to approach your salad bar and letting them make their own salad takes a lot of work behind the scenes. Here’s what you need to do to create the perfect salad bar:
Prepare A Selection Of Three To Six Vegetables
If you only have a small salad bar, you only need to have a minimum of three fruits. For bigger salad boards, you can have as plenty as six. You can opt for what you have in your local market, but no-fail vegetables for salads include
- sliced bell peppers in yellow, green, or red;
- avocado slices, if they’re in season;
- grated carrots;
- mushroom slices;
- corn kernels;
- tomato slices or full cherry tomatoes;
- cucumber slices; and
- red onion slices.
Place your ingredients in bowls to make your salad bar look more presentable. You can choose either plain or printed bowls. Printed bowls are perfect for a bit of festivity. But if you want to keep your dining room classy, plain bowls are the way to go. Add more depth and dimension by having different sizes of those bowls, so it’s not just a monotonous selection of small bowls placed beside each other. Remember, presentation matters too.
Prepare Bowls Of Lettuce With Forks
One of the most well-loved green vegetables for salads is lettuce, particularly red leaf lettuce or curly, romaine lettuce. As a good starting point for your salad bar, you might want to prepare bowls or reusable containers with a base of lettuce and its own fork.
Put this at the starting point of your salad bar. That way, it’s easy for guests to grab and take as they go. With their own bowl and fork, all your guests will do is add the other ingredients and dressings as they please.
Pro tip: Use reusable or biodegradable bowls instead of plates. This makes it easier for your guests to hold all the ingredients and mix the dressing, minus all the spills.
Have A Section Of Other Green Vegetable Choices
Next to your bowls of lettuce, present an array of other green vegetables your guests can add. Good choices of green vegetables to add on top of your lettuce base are arugula, spinach, and baby kale. The more greens, the better. They’re not only nutritious, but they also make salads more filling. Plus, it adds a lot of texture and crunch too.
Don’t Forget Fruits
You might get too overwhelmed or excited at all the vegetables you’re planning to serve that you miss out on the fruits. While you don’t need an extensive selection of fruits for your salad bar, having a few options is still nice. You can add mangoes, berries, oranges, kiwis, sliced bananas, or whatever local fruit is in season. Fruits add balance to salads and complement otherwise zesty dressings.
Moreover, salads aren’t just exclusively vegetables. Some prefer fruit for their salads over veggies for dessert, for example. Adding fruit to your salad bar is one opportunity you don’t want to miss if you want your guests to truly enjoy their time.
Present Some Cheeses Too
Cheese is perfect in salads for added protein, calcium, and healthy fats. But this doesn’t mean you should restrict your selection to the gooey goodness of cheddar and mozzarella. Choose healthier cheeses instead and arrange them as you would on a grazing board, which can be your cheese station in your salad bar.
For example, you can offer brie, camembert, cottage cheese, feta cheese, and parmesan. Cheese on salad adds a salty, sweet, or savory dimension. Make sure to offer dairy-free cheeses (when available) for your lactose-intolerant patrons.
Make Healthy Eating Fun With A Salad Bar
Adding a salad bar to your restaurant or renting one for a family get-together can provide a healthy addition to your offers. Salad bars are always a hit, as long as you prepare them well enough. Make sure to add veggies apart from lettuce, fruits for sweetness, and cheeses for savory-sweet goodness. Also, don’t forget about your presentation. Follow these tips and you can make sure your salad bar is a hit!