Every night growing up my mom served us salad. It was quite basic, just your everyday lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, but she dressed with tons of Wishbone Italian dressing, so I usually tended to eat every bite. On the occasions we got to go to a salad bar at an all you can eat buffet, I would make my salad my own by covering it with tons of toppings I'd never find at my house. Most of the ones I liked came out of a can, bag or jar, like croutons, bacon bits, or crispy onions, but the DIY aspect of it all really got me into loving salad even more at an early age.
Kenya started eating salad from about the time he was 2 1/2 years old, especially when I made my Strawberry Salad (you can even see us making it here). For Chloe it took a bit longer since big pieces of lettuce can overwhelm her. But when I chop up the lettuce and put out a slew of wholesome toppings and dressings like Eggless Caesar and Carrot Miso Dip for her and Kenya to make their own DIY salads, it's a different story for her.
This is one of those cooking opportunities where you can really embrace being creative without fear of messing up. It all starts with a base of good quality lettuce (Mesclun is an easy to eat and tasty variety, although both of my kids do love them some good ol' iceberg lettuce) and the rest is up to you. Open up your pantry and fridge and think outside the box. If you have a kid who is veggie-resistant, sometimes slicing carrots or peppers or other vegetables paper thin with a mandolin can make them more palatable than when they're cut up in bigger pieces. My husband does this with raw broccoli and you wouldn't even know what vegetable it was in that form.
Just remember, the sky is the limit when you're setting out a DIY salad buffet. The goal is to get everyone to have some fun and enjoy the foods they should be eating!
DIY Salad Buffet (serves as many as you need)
- romaine, mesclun, spring greens, herb mix, 1 cup per person
- sliced mushrooms
- grated cheese
- sliced olives
- cherry tomatoes
- sliced cucumbers
- sliced radishes
- bell pepper sticks
- nuts (sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or peanuts are yummy choices)
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- sliced strawberries
- sliced oranges
- oil and vinegar
- caesar dressing
- ranch dressing
1. Place lettuce in salad bowls with forks.
2. Place all other ingredients in small serving bowls and allow everyone to build their own salad.