Big party, Everyone brings a big salad or any type - what would you bring?
Can be a nice potato, veggie, pasta, etc.? Looking for different ideas. I might go with the asian slaw with ramen noodles or the brocolli/bacon salad but I'm looking for new ideas for a crowd. Most likely will make, then toss with dressing when I get there.
Generally when I do something 'different' it is meant to be a little side type thing to keep things interesting (Morroccan carrot salad, or something with radishes/habanero/orange segments/pumpkin seeds, stuff like that); it seems like you're looking for more of a main salad. In that case I would probably go with the spinach/walnut/apple/goat cheese combo, just different enough but not too crazy.
Two salads that have worked well for me in the past...
1. Thai inspired Broiled Eggplant Slices atop Mesculin Greens with a Sweet/Spicy Ginger Sesame Dressing.
2. Italian Seafood Salad. One or more of any of the following dressed only in Olive Oil and seasonings, served with lemon wedges on the side. No acid in the dressing.
I love lentil salads as well. I add whole peeled garlic and bay leaves to the lentils as they boil in salted water. Deep green "French" or "Puy" lentils hold their shape better than the pink or brown lentils. Boil till just tender. Don't over cook! Drain and toss while hot with red wine vinegar. Mash the garlic and stir into lentils. When cool, add diced cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, etc., along with sliced mushrooms and minced fresh herbs. Toss, adding mustard, vinegar, salt, Tabasco or black pepper to taste and leave to marinade for at least a couple hours at room temp or several days covered in the fridge. Before serving, taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. To serve, place red cabbage leaves on a platter and heap the salad on top, then sprinkle with crumbled goat or feta cheese, if you like.
Note -- this is an oil-free salad. If you don't use cheese, it is fat-free.
Grated beets make a marvelous salad. Just peel raw beets and grate. Dress with salt, vinegar, and oil. I'm particularly fond of using white wine vinegar and lemon olive oil on golden beets or balsamic vinegar and walnut oil on red beets. Top with cheese (goat or feta are nice) and/or nuts (toasted walnuts or pine nuts) or herbs (parsley or tarragon). I topped a golden beet salad with chopped ham the other day, and it was a fabulous combo.
I have to say that I like the results of grating with a box grater better than a food processor (unfortunately for the time & effort involved). The box grater seems to 'rough up' the surface more so the shreds seem more tender and hold the dressing better. The shreds come out of the food processor feeling slicker and not as toothsome.
Red, white and blue potato salad:
Roasted cauliflower with radicchio (I like adding roasted corn):
BLT Panzanella (no recipe but I fry up the bacon, use the fat to coat the bread and make croutons, use a little horse radish in the dressing and mayo, thinned w/ buttermilk).
Or a basic panzanella (I like to add marinated mozzarella):