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The Dinner Bar: Chopped Salad

This is a guest post from blogger and registered dietitian, Katie Morford, from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook. I go to Katie’s website for recipe inspiration, and I tell you, her photos alone get me excited, and I am sure will inspire you too! Today she writes about bringing the Chopped Salad home to your family.

The chopped salad comes home to your dining room!  It riffs on those salad eateries where all the fixings get piled into a big bowl, doused with dressing, tossed, and then spilled gloriously onto a plate.  It’s the perfect sort of thing to do when you don’t feel like cooking and have lots of odds and ends in the fridge that you’re not quite sure how to pull together.  Since practically anything can go into a salad, this dinner bar is the ideal vehicle for leftovers.  Cooked chicken, leftover vegetables, grains, beans, you name it, all become part of dinner.  What’s featured in my salad bar below may be quite different than what will be featured in yours.  Tailor it to what you have on hand and what your family enjoys.

You will need:

Salad Greens 

Pictured here is arugula, baby spinach and chopped Romaine.  Other options include:

  • shredded cabbage
  • butter lettuce
  • red leaf
  • any other salad green you like

Protein and Calcium-Rich Foods 

Here you see cooked, chopped chicken, cubes of Cheddar cheese, and cooked chick peas.  Other ideas include:

  • sliced turkey
  • cubed smoked tofu
  • cooked beans
  • lentils
  • cubed Swiss
  • crumbled feta
  • cooked ground beef or turkey

Fruits and Vegetables

 

I used tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, and cucumbers.  Any fruit or vegetable you enjoy in a salad will do:

  • bell peppers
  • blanched cauliflower
  • sliced fennel
  • chopped apples
  • mandarin oranges
  • grapes

Little Extras

 

These are the goodies kids really go for.  Here you see croutons, raisins, olives, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.  Other ideas are:

  • roasted peanuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • dried cranberries
  • crumbled bacon
  • cornichons

Dressing 

Put out your family’s favorite dressings, either homemade or store-bought.  Here I have homemade ranch dressing and a classic vinaigrette.  You can find the recipes for the dressings here:

Whole Grains

Whole grains in my salad bar usually show up in the form of a basket of crusty whole wheat baguette that the kids love to use for sopping up extra dressing.  Alternatively, you can include any cooked grain as a salad bar option:

  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • farro
  • bulgur wheat.

Assembly

Set out salad bar fixings on your table or counter along with a stack of serving plates.  At the end of the bar, set out a big bowl and salad tongs for tossing, like this one: 

Everyone goes down the salad bar, filling their individual plates with the goods.  At the end of the line, each person empties the contents of their plate into the big salad bowl, drizzles in their dressing, and mixes it up (just like they do at the chopped salad places).  They then pile their finished salad back on to the plate and dinner is done!

  

Contributing Author:  Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD,  Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

The Dinner Bar is a concept that your kids will love–because they are in control of what and how much they choose to eat.  You will love it too, because you get to determine the menu, without the headache of extensive cooking and preparation, and The Nourished Child will help make sure your family meals are well-rounded and nutritious. 

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