CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Enjoy these options from a humble brag salad bar

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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My husband had important speaker friends in town and suggested we all meet up.

It went from dinner out to with a pescatarian, a gluten avoider, a dieter and who knows what all preferences to a salad bar at my house … in a day. But even within a salad there are choices.

So, I figured I’d just lay it all out and stand back.

Years ago homemakers would be cautioned to have casseroles to defrost for visitors who dropped by around dinner time. As I kid I always thought who would knock at the door with family in tow right when our family was sitting down to eat?

Must have been a thing decades ago. Now they’d text and get a ride share to a restaurant.

I remember stories that a bit after the depression era, my grandma’s family stretched their food dollar with Cajun-based recipes that included stretching meat with ground eggplant, which had a similar texture.

The kids were always cautioned not to mention this to aunt so-and-so when she visited. She hated eggplant.

These days it seems the meat is the odd ingredient out. Folks are dairy-sensitive, gluten-free and vegan.

What’s left?

Plenty, but a bit of research can be involved.

Culinary Thrill Seeker that I am, I’ll try anything. But these days I take into account that my beloved hot peppers are hard on one friend’s stomach and another buddy loves bread but should avoid it, etc.

Fortunately my guests were apparently talking about their great “big salad” for days. So now here’s a few of my pantry staples for when company is coming.

Big Salad Staples:

  • Cans of garbanzo beans – Drain them and put in a dish as an add-in or blend them for a hummus dip.
  • Cans of black beans – Same as above. Use whole or blend into bean dip.
  • Can of corn – Makes a nice color splash in a bowl.
  • Onions and fresh jalapenos – Just because…
  • Pickled peppers, pickles, etc. – As a relish.
  • Corn chips, crackers, potato chips – Necessary crunch
  • Seeds and craisins – Nice touch for topping
  • Oil and vinegar – Make your own signature vinaigrette
  • Fresh cucumber, carrots sliced thin from mandolin, zucchini sticks, etc.
  • Olives of all colors
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Colorful bell pepper strips
  • Bagged salad – I’m sorry Jane, that I laughed when I first saw this stuff at your apartment in the late ‘80s. It has become a lifesaver.
  • Overbuy – It makes a beautiful spread and leftovers make healthy lunches for the rest of the week.

Darragh Doiron is a Southeast Texas foodie ready for summer salad season. Share your tips at