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Spectacular Salads for Any Party

Five salads that can sit, but still stand out.

One of my favorite parts of party-planning is actually after the party. It’s fun to hear the chatter after an event. The things people found funny or the things people appreciated most. I also love the requests for recipes. It’s a feedback loop after all! You know which recipes I am most often asked for? THE SALAD! 

I serve a green salad at nearly every event, sit-down or buffet, and yes, even at kid’s parties. Over time I have learned that the real sweet spot is not the dish with the super expensive ingredients or the most labor-intensive. It’s the delicious and healthy thing that you can imagine making at home after the party. 

What are my secrets to serving an amazing salad that keeps people coming back for more? 

  • The trick with salads on a buffet is that you want something that can sit for a while and won’t get soggy. Avoid really acidic dressings with wimpy leaves (Bibb, arugula, I am talking to you). 
  • The value add comes in TOSSING the salad. Please don’t serve the dressing on the side. Mix that baby up!
  • If it’s on a buffet, leave space next to the salad platter so people can set their plates down. My dining room table is rectangular, and I almost always put salad on a corner, so there is room to use two hands if needed.

Here are five (mostly raw) salads that can sit, but still stand out!

Salad #1

Spinach, toasted hazelnut, blueberry salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette (Dressing recipe from All Recipes). Host tip: This is a super easy recipe because you can buy spinach prewashed, and there’s nothing to chop. 

Salad #2

Romaine, radicchio, fennel, blue cheese, pear or apple, cranberry (or dried cherry) salad, rice wine vinaigrette, with the best spiced candied pecans. (Candied Pecan recipe is from Once Upon a Chef.)

Salad #3

Shaved Brussels sprouts and red cabbage, with pomegranate, maple balsamic vinaigrette (Dressing recipe from All Recipes).

Salad #4

Minty Black Bean Salad for a Crowd, which includes quinoa and tons of chopped herbs, shaved radish, etc. which is crunchy and filling. It’s a lot of chopping and juicing, but it’s delicious. (See salad recipe from My New Roots.) 

Salad #5

Panzanella, which is traditionally just bread, but for some reason I add romaine and usually pan fry the red bell pepper. Otherwise, the Panzanella recipe is from Ina Garten.