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Spectacular Salad needed!

I'm relying on all you great cooks out there for some help. I need a fabulous, spectacular salad for a brunch/early lunch. Having gained a slight reputation as a good cook, I aim to please my guests with something new and exciting each time I entertain. I already have some ideas but need an interesting salad. Nothing with meat/chicken/fish due to dietary restrictions. Something more sophisticated than a pasta salad or potato salad. And preferably something served cold that can be (at least partly) prepared in advance.

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  1. check out quinoa salads, on this site or food netowrk or epicurious...great grain, different, super healthy and easy to cook.

    1. What about a caprese salad? It is all in the presentation, too. If you had a long, narrow dish, you could alternate sliced tomatoes, buffalo mozarella and basil leaves and then drizzled with balsamic reduction. Buy the best buffalo mozarella and heirloom tomatoes.

      Another simple salad that I made and thought was great, is simply sliced heirloom tomatoes drizzled with a housemade tamarind dressing.

      1. This is my take on a pretty famous Aussie Asian fusion salad (made famous by "Mr Chang's" noodles)

        1 pkt (100 gm) Fried Noodles (Egg Noodles fried in vegetable oil)
        1/2 to 1 Wombok (Chinese Cabbage) – finely shredded
        6 spring onions – finely chopped
        100 gm toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts (1/2 to 1 cup)

        1/2 cup castor sugar
        1/4 cup white vinegar
        1 tblspn soy sauce
        1/2 cup olive oil
        2 tspns sesame oil

        Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar, shake well and leave until the sugar is dissolved.
        In a bowl, combine all the salad ingredients and add enough dressing to suit your taste – more or less depending how much you like throughout the salad. Mix well and serve immediately.

        If you leave it too long the noodles will go soggy.

        I prep everything and add the noodles just before serving.

        And just a note.. all the above measurements are Australian Metric. You might need to convert.

        1 Reply
        1. re: purple goddess

          And here's something using a lot of the same ingredients given to me by someone here in the U.S.:

          Oriental Cabbage Salad

          2-16oz. packages of cabbage slaw (or broccoli slaw, or one of each)
          2 packages beef-flavored ramen noodles
          1 cup toasted slivered almonds
          1 cup sunflower seeds
          2 bunches scallions, sliced

          1/3 cup sesame oil
          ½ cup vegetable oil
          ½ cup sugar
          ½ cup white wine vinegar
          Noodle flavoring
          Salt and pepper to taste

          Boil noodles without flavor and toss with cabbage, nuts and scallions.

          Mix all dressing ingredients together, then toss with salad.

        2. The Silver Palate's Rice and Vegetable salad is pretty darn good, and a bit different. The name is so humdrum, it doesn't do justice to the salad. It's a rice salad served at room temperature, composed of cooked white rice, very thinly sliced red and green peppers, diced red onion and shallots, peas, black olives (which I always omit) currants or golden raisins, scallions, and fair amount of chopped dill and parsley, tossed together in a red wine-dijon vinaigrette. Whenever I've taken this to dinner parties, people always scarf up all the leftovers to take home themselves. You can find the recipe at either of these two links:


          The recipe will yield eight to ten servings, according to the book, however, since it starts with eight cups of cooked rice, I think eight to ten would result in very generous servings, and my experience is 15 or more servings is more like it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: janniecooks

            I just saw what looked like a great salad on the food network last night. It was from French Food by Laura Calder. I haven't made it myself as yet, but sure plan to. It was du puey lentils, goat cheese and walnuts in a vinegarette. If you google food network you will find it there. If not, let me know if you want it.

            1. re: janniecooks

              Another vote for this one. A friend served it with orzo instead of rice, and I have made it that way several times. Always a great success.

            2. I always make a wild rice salad for potlucks that is a huge hit; has apricots, pinenuts and tarragon vinegar. I use a mix of wild and white rice. It's originally from Bon Appetit, but I found this link which is the same recipe


              1. For presentation thats "fun" create Asiago cheese bowls/baskets

                1. There's two bread-based options that come to mind...Fattoush (middle eastern salad made with pieces of pita) and Panzenella (Italian salad made with cubes of bread).
                  Similar concept, the bread is stale/cut up/toasted and tossed with veggies and dressing just before serving. You can prepare the veggie/dressing part in advance, but toss it together with the bread no more than an hour before serving or it loses it's texture.

                  1. Thai "Tiger Cry" salad is startling to say the least. I posted this in Recipes in Feb. (too stupid to do link thingy):

                    Searching for Tiger Cry on CH produces many results, but not one single recipe that I could see, so here’s mine (a very basic version). Perfect as a light lunch dish or part of a larger meal/buffet. Pretty low on fat too, if you trim the meat well. I’m in the UK but I’ll try and provide US notes if I can. Also some in the US might be used to more meat, but in reality 10oz should be enough for two people. A couple of chicken breast fillets, poached for 20 mins and then cooled and sliced could replace the beef.


                    Juice of 1 lime (2 limes if you like)

                    One fresh chilli, seeded and finely sliced. Your call on how much to use!

                    Small handful of fresh coriander (cilantro?), chopped

                    1 or 2 teaspoons sugar (any sort)

                    1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

                    1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (maybe a little more)

                    Sirloin steak. Approx 300g/10 oz weight after trimming of fat. Rump steak would be fine.

                    Salad: 1 cos or 2 little gem lettuce roughly sliced, 2 or 3 medium tomatoes cut into wedges and about 6 spring onions (scallions) cut into 1/2 inch bits.


                    1. Mix the first six ingredients to make the dressing.
                    2. Get a frying pan/skillet/grill pan nice and hot, add a little oil, and cook the steak. 2 minutes each side is enough for me. Allow to cool a bit (5 minutes or so) and slice into thinnish ribbons. Between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick should be fine.
                    3. Mix the salad ingredients and arrange on a serving plate. Roughly drape the sliced beef on top and spoon over the dressing. Serve.
                    4. This can be served with the beef warm or cold, and just alter the amount and proportions of the dressing ingredients to suit your tastes. If you need carbs, place some cool cooked noodles on the dish before the salad.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Robin Joy

                      yummy robin joy! I'll try it, I can covert measurements thank you!
                      We love these types of salads!

                    2. i really enjoy this "pimp my autumn salad" thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/456931

                      also, uncle ben's has a nice recipe search feature by types of cuisine. fun to explore for some nice combo ideas: http://www.unclebens.com/recipes/

                      1. Just made this recently: Put some nice arugula in a wide salad bowl, top with Trader Joe's herb salad mix,

                        Beforehand, prepare a zucchini (for two people) tby cutting it into tiny dice and dropped into boiling water until just barely cooked, then rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly. Add to herb salad mix.

                        Also in advance, cook some mushrooms (half a pound for two people) by frying them in a tablespoon or so of butter and olive oil over medium heat with the juice of half a lemon and a little salt, covering until they release their juices, then cooking over high heat until all liquid is gone. Keep in frying pan.

                        Poach one egg per customer, and put on top of salad mix and zucchini. Top with warm mushrooms, and dress minimally with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar/minced or pressed garlic clove/tsp. dijon mustard vinaigrette, salted and peppered to taste. The egg yolk will combine with the dressing, so you don't need much.

                        Ridiculously good.

                        1. The recipe for "Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata, Torn Croutons and Opal Basil" from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques is to die for and makes for a very spectacular presentation. The recipe can be found here:


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DanaB

                            Oh - and so is the Salmon one - not sure if there is a link on the COTM thread. I also made the squid salad from her book this weekend - amazing.

                          2. Large pearl couscous, dried cranberries, pine nuts, olive oil, fresh parsley; serve chilled.

                            1. I really enjoy this salad. It's a mixed baby greens salad with pears, roquefort, spiced pecans, haricort verts, grapes and onions with a green apple and walnut oil vinaigrette. The recipe comes from "American Brasserie" by Rick Tramonto and Gail Gand but the vinaigrette recipe needs more apple than as written. If this appeals please e-mail or post and I'll be happy to post, as modified, recipe.


                              1. We tried this salad for a Christmas dinner two years ago, and we were all blown away by it. Simple, elegant, delicious. I had leftovers in the kitchen and everything was devoured!

                                Ina Garten's Endive, Pear, and Roquefort Salad: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                1. Nordstrom’s Caramelized Walnut and Pear Salad . It is wonderful, and if you Google it the recipe will come up. Everytime I go there I order it, and I have made it at home.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Mother of four

                                    Along the lines of these salads wihich combine flavors of sweet and sour, creamy and crunchy, I recently made a salad of watercress, strawberry, gorgonzola dolce and candied pecans with a champagne vinaigrette.
                                    Totally delicious and timely at the height of strawberry season here!

                                  2. Yes KateB, please share the recipe!

                                    This is similar to purple goddess's. I've made this a couple of times and it is always hugely popular, people beg for the recipe.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: 16crab

                                      Happy to Comply!
                                      8 ounces mixed baby greens
                                      6 ounces haricots verts or string beans, blanched and refreshed in a cold water bath
                                      3 ripe pears cored and sliced length-wise(2 will do)
                                      8 ounces stemmed red grapes
                                      1/2 small red onion sliced into into thin rings and soaked in cold water or wine vinegar (vinegar better) then drained
                                      8 ounces roquefort (I use Maytag blue) chilled
                                      1 tbl chopped chives (I use more)

                                      For the spiced pecans:
                                      1 cup pecan halves
                                      1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
                                      1/4 tsp ground cumin
                                      1 tbl light brown sugar
                                      2 tsp olive oil

                                      For the Green Apple Walnut Vinaigrette:
                                      1 Granny Smith Apple (the recipe calls for 1/2 apple which does not work as well IMHO given the amount of oil) peeled, cored and cut into chunks
                                      1 shallot, peeled
                                      1/4 cup cider vinegar
                                      1 tsp sugar
                                      1/3 cup walnut oil
                                      2/3 cup canola or light olive oil
                                      Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

                                      First make the vinaigrette. In a blender or food processor combine the shallots and apple chunks until smooth. Then add the sugar and vinegar and pulse to combine. Add the oils and blend. Season with salt & pepper. (Will keep for a few days covered in the fridge)

                                      Make the pecans (these will keep for a few days tightly covered):

                                      Pre-heat oven to 350F. Mix the cayenne, cumin and sugar in a mixing bowl then add the olive oil and combine. Toss in the pecans and combine until thoroughly coated. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes taking care not to let the pecans burn. Stir the pecans half-way through the cooking process. Let pecans cool before using.

                                      For the salad:
                                      Put greens, pecans, beans, pears, grapes and drained onions in a bowl and drizzle with half of the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Crumble or chop the roquefort or blue cheese over the salad and garnish with the chives. Toss and serve with the additional vinaigrette.

                                    2. One of our favorite "gourmet" salads is wild rice, artichoke hearts, green onions, chopped tomatoes, all tossed with a little blue cheese and a little blue cheese dressing.

                                        1. re: Robin Joy

                                          Ditto on the Jamie Oliver salad above, it was a huge hit when I served it up.

                                          1. re: Robin Joy

                                            Wow, that looks like a great salad! and so simple.

                                          2. This salad is delicious and looks gorgeous!... Beet Salad with Candied Marcona Almonds

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: kgebhard

                                              ooooooo keeping this! Great looking salad, made me hungry at 7:30am! Not to mention how stunning it looks - thanks!