Creating and Serving Salads During Your Summer Dinner Party

We like to entertain guests during the summer months and I like to serve salads as our meals. I never know exactly what kind of salad accompaniments to prepare so I like to offer a little bit of everything. When you are preparing salads to serve at a dinner party, you always want to start out with the freshest ingredients possible, so don’t purchase them more than 1-2 days in advance.

Here are a few ideas of what you can serve so that your guests can create their own perfect salad.

Vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, loose-leaf and head lettuce, mushrooms, onions, radishes, red beets, red peppers, snow peas, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini

Meats and Fish: grilled chicken and fish, ham, turkey, pepperoni, salami, seafood

Miscellaneous: cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, alfalfa sprouts, green and black olives

Cheeses: American, blue cheese, cheddar, Swiss, Colby Jack, provolone

Toppings: bacon, croutons, crushed Chinese noodles, raisins, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tofu

Dressings: French, Italian, Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, Ranch, Honey Mustard, Flavored Vinaigrettes

When it comes to serving your salad items, here are a few tips.

1. Serve the cold items in chilled bowls or serving plates.

2. Pat dry all vegetables with a clean dry cloth after rinsing/cleaning them.

3. Shred and chop all items into bite size pieces ahead of time and store in the refrigerator in proper airtight containers.

4. If combining your salad ingredients ahead of time (instead of using individual serving dishes), prepare them 1-2 hours before serving time.

5. Always serve a variety of dressings and vinaigrettes as everyone has different ‘likes’ and taste buds. All dressings should be well chilled before serving.

6. A properly set table will include a salad plate with fork. It is bad hostess etiquette to make guests use their dinner plates or soup bowls for eating their salads.

7. Keep all ingredients chilled until 20 minutes before serving time.

When it comes to creating the perfect summer salad, the possibilities are endless. For each individual person, the perfect salad will be different. I like mine loaded with a variety of vegetables and cheese, my husband enjoys his with a variety of meats, and our daughter enjoys just a handful of vegetables with some seafood mixed in.

The most important thing to remember is to offer a variety of items and make your ingredients colorful and appealing to the eye.