Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, or planning a special at home dinner, a delicious salad can leave a lasting impression. To truly wow your dinner companions, think beyond the traditional “house salad” of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and carrots and seek inspiration from vibrant fruit, crunchy vegetables, flavorful cheese and tangy dressing. Here are three colorful and delicious salad ideas to get you started!
Fresh Raspberry, Cucumber, Feta, Green Bean and Chickpea Spinach Salad
Incredibly simple, this fresh salad requires very little cooking! If you can select good ingredients and chop bite sized pieces, then you can prepare this hearty salad. Combine baby spinach with cucumber, green beans that are steamed and lightly tossed in extra virgin olive oil, chickpeas, crumbled feta cheese and fresh raspberries. Dress with a tangy fat free balsamic dressing – both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have excellent varieties. Pare it with a simple chicken, steak, or fish entree and a great loaf of bread. Super easy, right?
Tangy Grapefruit, Jicama, Cabbage, Spiced Walnut and Mixed Greens Salad
Featuring tangy grapefruit segments, sweet spiced walnuts, jicama, crunchy carrots and cabbage with mixed greens, this colorful salad pairs well with a Mexican, or Asian themed dinner party menu. To make this salad for an Asian themed dinner party, use the version (salad dressing included) from Epicurious courtesy of The Slanted Door in San Francisco. Confession: I actually re-created the above salad for a dinner party while I was in the Bay Area by taking home the salad from The Slanted Door and added the mixed greens. To make for a Mexician themed dinner party, try this recipe (sans avocados, as I think it would be too much unless you’re serving a light entree) and consider making your own Mexican spiced pepitas (versus spiced walnuts).
Roasted Asparagus, Fig, Parmesan Cheese and Watercress Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
The above salad was snapped, then promptly devoured during a dinner out at Porto & Fi in Edinburgh (yes, that’s Scotland hehe). In addition to being gorgeous, this delicious salad is not difficult to make. Simply roast fresh asparagus in the oven, slice up ripe black mission figs into bite sized pieces (I’d recommend keeping raw vs. roasting), grate or shave aged parmesan cheese and toss with either watercress, or arugula. I’d recommend dressing with either a good aged balsamic, or a drizzle of balsamic reduction, which essentially means simmering 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar on your stove top over medium heat until it thickens. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes, and don’t do it for too long or you’re going to have inedible goop (dinner party faux pas!).
From my table to yours, buon appetito!