The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

May 8, 2013

Amanda Stone: Create your own salad bar

JOPLIN, Mo. — We know deep in our gluttonous guts that eating is about hunger. Quality should trump quantity.

I grew up loving all-you-can-eat buffets, so it's been hard retraining my brain and stomach. I still want to stuff myself until my breathing becomes labored; gorge until my stomach and lungs are fighting for space. But I don't. Usually.

Salad bars are a fun way to bring the buffet experience home. Right now, spring greens are ripe for the picking in your garden. Pop into the farmers market for more varieties, such as kale, collard and turnip greens, spinach, arugula and beautiful lettuces. Pull out all of your soup, cereal and mixing bowls. Fill them with everything you could possible want on a salad. Obvious veggies aside, I like to offer beans, sunflower seeds, different varieties of cheese, chopped boiled eggs, mushrooms, olives, beets and anything else I have in the fridge. Add tuna, crab, baby shrimp and chopped chicken to make the salad feel more like a meal. Offer cooked barley, quinoa or serve hunks of crusty bread, and the meal is complete. I don't see how anyone couldn't love salad bar night.

I love the variety of a salad bar, but sometimes we fall prey to the items that make a salad worse for us than a main dish. When making a salad bar at home, keep serving sizes in mind, especially for the foods that aren't vegetables (the cheese and eggs, for example). Dressing is the main culprit. A serving size is usually 2 tablespoons. Measure it out a couple of times so you can eyeball your pouring more precisely. It's best to make your own dressing; the bottled stuff is usually full of sugar, bad fats and words you can't pronounce.

I prepare a huge salad weekly that waits in the fridge, ready to stand in as the main meal or side dish at any moment. Each time I prepare the big salad, I make a fresh batch of vinaigrette. I keep mine pretty simple, using olive oil and balsamic or red-wine vinegar with a touch of Dijon mustard and honey. I switch it up when I'm feeling saucy by adding a dollop of plain yogurt and hot sauce. Salad dressing can be tweaked in a number of ways, depending on what you prefer. Add ginger, garlic, avocado or anything else you like.

 

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