DIY Salad Bar

I love a good salad bar. I’m not talking about the kind with wilted iceberg lettuce, out of season cherry tomatoes, bitter cucumbers and hardboiled eggs that have been sitting out for who knows how long. While eating at those salad bars sometimes becomes a necessary evil for vegetarians, I prefer another kind of salad bar.

The kind with roasted beets and Brussels sprouts and blanched broccoli.

The kind that has quinoa and different kinds of beans.

A salad bar with multiple types of greens so you can mix and match.

On my recent trip to southern California for work, I had access to such a salad bar for lunch and dinner; I was in heaven. A salad piled with veggies and a cup of warm soup and I was in heaven.

At home, my go to side salad is usually greens. With dressing. I’m really creative, I know.

Although I’ve recently made things a bit more interesting with raw Brussels sprouts and pomegranates or beets and cabbage, my default usually involves baby mixed greens and not much else.

But after my trip down south, I thought to myself “why couldn’t I create such a salad bar at home?” I’m sure this is old hat to many, many people, especially other vegetarians, but for me it was a pretty revolutionary thought.

So last week I took one evening and I roasted some Brussels sprouts. I blanched broccoli and green beans. I tore up greens and cooked beans. I sliced mushrooms and celery. I packaged everything in separate containers and grouped it together in my fridge.

Each morning, I was able to pull things out – with everything prepped – and mix and match to create a delicious, veggie filled salad to take with  me for lunch.  Dressed with a little olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, I was good to go.

I can’t stress enough how much easier it was to have everything prepped beforehand. Rushing around in the morning makes me cranky so I don’t want to be chopping greens or blanching vegetables. You could even prep the salad the night before and just dress it in the morning, if you’re really organized!

And for some inspiration, I decided to brainstorm a list of things that would be great to have on hand for a DIY salad bar, depending on the season.

Greens

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Mixed Greens
  • Arugula
  • Romaine

Veggies

  • Tomato
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Broccoli (blanched)
  • Cauliflower (blanched)
  • Beets (roasted or raw)
  • Brussels sprouts (roasted or raw)
  • Winter squash (roasted)
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Grilled onions
  • Corn

Grains

  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Brown rice
  • Wheatberries
  • Pasta

Proteins

  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Giant lima beans
  • White Beans
  • Edamame
  • Chopped hard-boiled eggs

Toppings

  • Avocado
  • Dried fruit
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Sesame seeds

This is just what I came up with off the top of my head – what are your favorite salad bar ingredients?

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