I got the idea for a salad bar party a while ago from a podcast on homefries.com. I absolutely love these guys on The Table Set, who also suggested a "Bring Your Own Pizza Topping Party". You could also do a "Bring Your Own Omelet Filling Brunch Party". When I was dogsitting for my coworker back in the winter, I read something in the Red Hat Society Cookbook (which I made fun of quite a bit) where you could have a boiling pot of water going, have everyone choose which omelet fillings they wanted, then you put the eggs and the fillings in zip-lock bags, write their names in marker on the outside of the bags, shake them around a bit, and throw them in the pot of boiling water. I'm not sure if that omelet technique would work or not, but I thought the salad bar party concept worked out great. You would never buy all of those separate toppings, so making it a group thing is a way to make it way more feasible. Plus, it is summer and who wants to turn the oven on?
To go with the salad, I made some zucchini pancakes from the Joy the Baker cookbook (with zucchinis from the Bennington Farmer's Market) and blueberry nectarine mini hand pies from supplies leftover from when I made a full size pie from the Baking with Julia cookbook. The blueberries and nectarines were from The Berry Patch in Stephentown (who also sell their produce at the Troy Farmer's Market), and they were delicious.
I made a punch with pineapple juice, seltzer, blackberries, raspberries, and a big hunk of watermelon sorbet floating around as the ice cube. I thought it was really refreshing, and I liked the way that the sorbet melted throughout the evening.
I made some bread too, both from the Baking with Julia cookbook, wheat loaves and oasis naan using wheat flour.
And on to the important part - the salad bar! What did we end up with? Here is a photo I took before people arrived. I got the suspicion at about 4:00 in the afternoon (which I was right about) that no one was going to bring lettuce and went out and got some. I also made some black beans, and dressings: tahini, buttermilk, and red wine and champagne vinaigrette. I also put out the curry croutons and the cucumber from my friend Jessica's garden I got from the Schenectady Food Swap. That is also jessjamesjake's totally awesome red container I'm holding hostage until next time she comes over, so lots of Jessicas were there in spirit.
Then a picture after people started bringing stuff:
That all includes: julienned carrots, apples, bell peppers cut like stars, hard boiled eggs, snow peas, avocados (from the Californian), chickpea salad with green beans from her garden (Italian flavors from the one with Italian heritage), craisins, and I am sure other things I could be forgetting. It was great! You could make different salads with different dressings, and the variety made it a good time! I'd like to single handedly make salad bars trendy again! Thanks to homefries.com for a fabulous party idea (makes it worth it that I spent January on a massive filing project and listened to all of the podcasts!) And thanks to everyone for building an awesome, healthy, fresh, colorful salad bar!