Solution: At-Home Salad Bar

I’m at the top of my ten-pound weight swing, which means salads for lunch until I get the house back in order. I love the ease of salad bars, and after searching for a fridge-sized box to keep everything at hand, I finally realized I could just use the crisper drawer.

My at-home salad bar has a head of arugula in a little bowl of water (It still had the roots on when I bought it. Fancy.), a bag of mixed greens, an avocado, a bowl of cherry tomatoes, some chopped jicama, and chopped carrots. Also, red peppers, which I don’t love, but they’re so good for me that I just sneak a few in. Instead of plastic wrap, I used little folded sandwich baggies to line the bowls of ingredients that needed it.


It increased my salad intake and consumption dramatically because it was so easy to pull the drawer out, throw my ingredients in a bowl, and pop everything right back into place. Clearly, I am a genius.

If you’re looking to improve your salad-making mojo, here are a few good links to explore:

-Oprah’s mix and match salad chart
-Metafilter thread on salad ingredients
-And a few salad ingredients to avoid from Six Wise.

Is this my first official post about what I had for lunch? I feel a stoning coming on.

Have a favorite salad combo? I’d love to hear about it in comments.

48 thoughts on “Solution: At-Home Salad Bar

  1. One of my all time favorites, butter lettuce with apple chucks, gorgonzola and raspberry dressing. However, it does appear to include two “salad ingredients to avoid.”

    Lately I’ve been loving lettuce and blanched green beans from the CSA box with homemade buttermilk dressing. It’s quite delicious.

    Also Mark Bittman recently wrote a piece for the NYT with 101 salad ideas if anyone’s looking for inspiration.


  2. A local restaurant serves a hunk of goat cheese baked in filo dough on top of butter lettuce. The dressing is their own version of ranch. Hard to explain, but it is nothing like ranch.

    I’ve tried to recreate it but haven’t gotten close on the dressing and me baking goat cheese in filo dough? I missing the technique I’m afraid.


  3. I had a good one last night – herb salad with a sprinkle of lime vinaigrette: baby greens, fresh herbs (parsley and dill), roasted cherries, and a sprinkling sunflower seeds.


  4. I have this enormous Tupperware that I absconded with during a temp job–it’s perfect for salads. I wash and tear a huge hunk of spinach and one of red lettuce, then put half of it in the bottom of the Tupperware. On top of that go thinly-sliced red onions, dried cranberries, and feta. The last half of the greens go on top, and the hubs and I pick out of that all week.


  5. Fantastic idea! Our local pizzeria does a delicious salad that we used to order all the time until we realized we could make it ourselves: endive, pear, walnuts, chives, a few Pecorino shavings. Add a dash of lemon vinaigrette (fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper) and you’re there. A nice crunchy change from the leafy greens we normally eat.

    And two seemingly-obvious salad ingredients that are a recent discovery to me: garlic, and basil. Never thought of putting either in a salad, but boy can they make a taste difference.


  6. I have been eating only vegetarian for lunch for the past 6 weeks, and hope to make it a semi-permanent habit, at least at work. Therefore, I am always looking for great salad ideas so thanks for the post! I buy the hydroponic lettuce with roots still attached, get a healthy(but small, because I get bored quickly) bottle of salad dressing, and raw carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and usually some Parmesan or mozzarella cheese. My favorite lately has been salad with walnuts and Brianna’s homestyle dressing flavor, Blush Wine Vinaigrette and some goat cheese. Also, a tip – its bad to put tomatoes in the fridge, they lose alot of their flavor as soon as they go below 45°F.


  7. Such a great idea!! I am going to copy you as soon as I stop typing! I like to grill corn on the cob, then cut it off and mix it into salads along with some black beans, tomatoes and cukes. I make a little dressing with balsamic vinegar and muffaletta dressing (I’m in Louisiana), and have myself a delicious dish!! I’m with you on the weight, so here’s to us!!


  8. I have to have protein at lunch or I turn into an old dandelion and blow away in the afternoon wind. So salads would have to include shredded chicken. Or tuna, except for that mercury bit.


  9. HAHA! No one cares what you had for lunch! 🙂

    I don’t really care what is in my salad (it could be lettuce with crunchy spines for all I care), but my husband likes cauliflower and carrots and mushrooms and such. I am more of a tomatoes and cucumbers girl… with big crunchy romaine spines. CRUNCH.

    If I need a little protein, I add nuts, or cut-up lunch meat, or (guilty pleasure ahead) some of that fake crab meat flavored like lobster).


  10. Yay, salads!Here are my top 2:

    1. Cabbage Kale Slaw (from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen):

    Thinly slice 1/4 head raw cabbage and 1/2 head kale (de-stemmed). Toss with 2 tbs apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt & tsp thyme. Taste. Vow to become raw foodie until tempted by cookie. Eat cookie.

    2.Peach and Tomato Salad

    This is amazing when both the peaches and the tomatoes are perfectly ripe (i.e. right now, in SF). Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tbs lemon juice, 1/4 tsp curry powder, 1 tbs fresh parsley leaves and a pinch of salt. Cut two large, ripe tomatoes and two ripe peaches into wedges, and combine gently, drizzling the dressing over the fruit. Die of joy.


  11. I just made a good one courtesy of my CSA delivery newsletter:

    Torn-up romaine
    Fresh basil
    Lemon cucumber
    Sliced radishes
    Red pepper chunks
    One sliced apple
    Cherry tomatoes
    Handful of pine nuts
    Handful of kalamata olives
    Dash of EVOO and balsamic

    The combination of flavors is out of this world. It’s also rather gorgeous. (I resisted the urge to add cheese, but I bet that would be cool.)



    pour boiling water over thin onion slices, wait a minute, drain. fill bowl with onions, lemon juice, pinch of salt and sugar and herbs. let sit for at least an hour, drain, and enjoy. YUM (and I dislike raw onion in salad).

    shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, cilantro, green onions, lime juice, salt. yum. (also GREAT in burritos, but that defeats the purpose a bit)


  13. All-time favorite salad: arugula with curls of shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts dressed with lemon-honey vinaigrette. I can eat this by the carload.


  14. My all time favorite salad mixture: cucumbers, green and red bell peppers, red onion and grape tomatoes with Italian dressing. What can I say, I’m a simple girl. And I don’t care for lettuce.


  15. here’s my family’s secret vinaigrette – do NOT tell anyone!

    1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed with a teaspoon of coarse salt (the salt helps release the garlic juices)
    1 or 2 teaspoons sugar (to taste)
    a glop or 2 of good oil (any kind)
    a glob or 2 of whatever kind of vinegar you like

    all the amounts are approximate and you can add a teaspoon of a nice mustard, some fresh herbs or a few fresh berries from the garden.

    mix vigorously with a fork until it emulsifies, then pour on greens and enjoy. and remember – it’s a secret!


  16. Mmm… now I feel bad because I’m reading this post as I eat cheddar-broccoli pizza. Sigh.

    Anyway! Great idea! What kind of dressing do you use, Maggie?

    On a side note, I really like how losing a little weight comes across as really low-key in this post. It’s like you’re not freaking out, you’re not spending 12 hours on the treadmill daily, you’re just swapping in salad for lunch. Love it.


  17. I’ve been really into a recipe from the Chocolate and Zucchini Cookbook lately for zucchini carpaccio. I use my mandolin to slice a zucchini paper-thin then sprinkle with raspberry vinegar and olive oil. Add some fresh thyme and goat cheese crumbles and it’s fancy and heats the house up not at all (a requirement for meals for us here in Texas from about June to September.)


  18. I am a huge fan of adding fresh herbs to salads. It really enhances the flavors of what is already in the salad and eliminates the need for calorie loaded dressings.


  19. A favourite salad that a friend introduced me to: Avocado, cherry tomatoes (or whatever tomatoes you prefer really) and hearts of palm with some red wine vinegar and olive oil. Salt to taste.


  20. Love the salad bar at home! On Sundays I shred a big carrot, a beet and maybe a chunk of purple cabbage in the food processor and stuff them in a tupperware container together. I put a rinsed can of chickpeas in a tupperware. I might even bake some seasoned tofu. And of course I wash and dry the lettuce so it’s easy to grab. I make my own dressing with flaxseed oil, Braggs, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar. Add some avocado and/or walnuts if I have them. And the best is if I can sprinkle on some panko flakes for the slightest little harmless crunch. That salad is full of insanely healthy stuff but it tastes like Christmas morning.


  21. I will admit to giving in to the siren call of the salad bar at Whole Foods — what can I say, they have shredded beets! I just get a container of all the vegetable things I want (carrots, beets, red cabbage, onions, brocolli, &c) and then I buy a bag of herb and greens mixture from the produce market, and spend all week adding my easy, pre-chopped & sliced mixture of vegetables to that. Usually with garbanzo or cannelini beans added to it, and perhaps a bit of cheese or some fruit or nuts or a poached egg. I just can’t be bothered with all the vegetable prep, even though I love all the vegetables.

    My favorite salad lately, though, has been shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, chopped green onions, and avocado. With sesame oil and ponzu sauce. Yum.


  22. How is no one not teasing you about posting on WHAT YOU HAD FOR LUNCH?

    No salad tips for you. Not till you rectify the posting situation.



  23. Here is a fabulous vegetarian salad that has all kinds of good things including fiber and protein which I created last summer when I was rummaging through cupboards and the frig to find something to make for a light dinner (I think I will post this at my blog as well later tonight):

    1 can of dark red kidney beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 can corn drained
    1/4 c. chopped purple onion
    1 clove fresh garlic, diced
    1 small green or red pepper chopped
    1/2 pine nuts, toasted
    1/4 c. fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
    1 pkg. of Good Seasons salad dressing

    1. Prepare Good Seasons salad dressing according to label. Set aside.
    2. Combine all other ingredients and then pour the mixed salad dressing over and toss gently.
    3. Chill and serve. Delicious. And refreshing.


  24. I’m also not crazy about raw red peppers. But I love roasted red peppers on a salad; Broil slices until skin is charred black. Throw in zip lock bag for 20 minutes. Peel off blackened skin and store in plastic container. Adds a ton of flavor!


  25. Mix of greens (excl iceberg lettuce!), mesclun, arugula, basil, toasted pine nuts, homegrown tomatoes, avocado, chick peas, red onion, feta, and either thinly sliced strawberries or thinly sliced cumquats, possibly raisins, tossed with agniezska’s “secret” recipe dressing above (i use a tasty balsamic vinegar). I like lotsa STUFF in my salads. They make a filling meal.


  26. My new favorite salad addition is chia (yes, like the pet) seeds. They’re ridiculously healthy – fiber, omega 3’s, calcium, protein, the whole deal. And they add a delightfully nutty crunch 🙂 Whole Foods sells them under the brand “Ruth’s Chia Goodness.”


  27. Great idea but I need a moment to intervene. Tomatoes should never be refrigerated! They begin to break down and get all tragically wrong. And by tragically wrong I mean they begin to lose flavor and harden so please, please, don’t put tomato in the crisper!


  28. I agree with the protien lady above—I would be hungry again soon without it. My old standby is lettuce, avocado and turkey, but really I’ll eat whatever’s growing in the yard.
    Just make sure to include fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and the dressing is a drizzle of olive oil and a splash or two of seasoned rice vinegar to whatever combo you like. Yummy and easy.


  29. My fave is my homemade taco salad: lettuce (your choice — I use some sort of mixed baby lettuces), black and garbanzo beans with desired spices added (cumin, chili powder, garlic, etc.), cheese (something mild, just a bit), avocado, purple onion and lots of salsa (your favorite) on top. I like to eat this with a small portion of blue corn chips on the side. Won’t all fit into the crisper drawer of the fridge, but man is it yummy.


  30. I hate lettuce – probably because iceberg was the only lettuce I knew existed until I went to college.

    My perfect salad consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, some mozzarella cheese, vinegar and a sprinkle of basil. I love it because it easily scales up or down based on supply and budget. I can have the good and pricey mozzarella or cut up a string cheese stick. I can have fresh basil or dried. It’s all good!


  31. I have never been a huge salad fan, but as long as there is a good dressing on it, I’d eat anything. My salads usually consist of iceberg lettuce (yes, I know it has practically no nutritional value….I like it the best so I really could care less) and a little salad mix also (the stuff that has radicchio, baby spinach, endive, etc. in it) , shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded carrots (not much…carrots have lots of carbs!), cauliflower bits, some sort of meat (tuna, chicken, lunch meat sliced up…you get the idea), raisins or cran-raisins, sunflower seeds and a nice ranch dressing. Never cucumbers, never tomatoes (yuk). Some of my salad accessories are higher in fat, so those things I use sparingly. I like to take a bite and be pleasantly surprised that I happened to have scored a few sunflower seeds. It’s like an unexpected gift from the hubby…except edible. 🙂

    I keep our lettuces cut up in a large tupperware bowl with a tight lid in our refrigerator. I also have 2 folded paper towels laying on top of the lettuce in that bowl to absorb any moisture…this keeps lettuce fresher for longer. I try shred my cheese ahead of time and just keep that and any other prepared salad accessories in ziplock sandwich baggies in the crisper drawer with the large salad bowl. I love how your drawer looks, Maggie, with the bowls of the salad accessories, but my drawer doesn’t have enough space for all of that with my huge lettuce bowl being a space-hog.


  32. I love salads for lunch! Those medium-sized plastic containers they sell at most grocery stores (in packs of 5) are absolutely perfect for lunch-sized salads. I usually buy a giant box of baby spinach, red, yellow, and orange peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes, etc. each weekend. Then I chop everything up and make 5 containers of ‘base salad’ with all of the above. Each night, all I have to do is add toppings depending on what I feel like! Some ideas for toppings…
    – 1/2 an avocado, cubed
    – flavoured tuna
    – crumbled feta (but not too much)
    – sliced almonds or walnut chunks
    – tofu
    – quinoa (a small handful…yum! and protein-ful)
    – scrambled egg whites
    – black/red beans
    – cucumber slices
    – roasted chickpeas (yum! especially if spicy)
    – sliced strawberries
    – sliced peaches
    – grapes

    I hate most packaged dressings. Big fan of balsamic vinegar, though.

    Your salad-bar-in-a-crisper is cute!


  33. One of my fave lunch salads is lettuce, broccoli, carrots, beets, garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, raisins and a small sprinkle of shredded cheese. Light ranch dressing is my fave on this.

    A few higher-calorie ingredients in this one, but when it’s your whole lunch, you need it to keep full, anyway. (Oh, and for the dressing — I make the ranch from a packet, only subbing mostly plain yogurt for the mayonnaise and milk.)


  34. I just finished your book so this was extra funny to me!

    What an amazing idea- I’m going to try this especially when the school year starts and time moves way faster than it should!


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