I have figured out that my husband and two young daughters do really well with a buffet concept, and while traveling the last week we ate twice at Souper Salads. (I know, not chowish but I have a rowdy toddler and it was close to the hotel. You do what you gotta do...)
I'm going to set up a salad bar that will last us for 2-3 nights each week, by doing all the prep and chopping in one day, and store things in individual containers. Some things can just live in their own jars on the fridge door (hearts of palm, baby corn, etc) and I know some things will have to be chopped fresh each night, but I want to have 60-70% of it waiting for me in the fridge on salad bar days.
What would you include in a home salad bar, both as basics and as luxuries or little extras that really make a difference? I'm trying to expose them to a very wide variety of tastes and ethnic foods, and part of my idea with this salad bar concept is that I will keep some soups and dips frozen/in the fridge, so I'll take any ideas on pasta salads, coordinating soups, or dips, as well. Oh, and good homemade dressings.
Fire away - I have grocery list in hand waiting to add all your lovely suggestions. The best idea I picked up from Souper Salads was marinated roasted vegetables (eggplant, red peppers, and zucchni). Oh, and jicama, but I think I'm going to have to use a crisp pear instead of jicama because not sure if I can spend all that time making matchstick-sized pieces of jicama - never butchered one before...
Lucy (cooking novice who will avoid cooking by simply serving a salad bar at home for the next 15 years) :)