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Salad Bar Combos: What's your favorite?

So...just started working at Genentech, and my nearest cafeteria has a pretty nice little salad bar. At last peek, it included things like spring mix, romaine, spinach, and arugula for greens; beans, veggies, occasional fruits, nuts, seeds, and about 8 types of dressing; croutons, eggs, tofu, little shrimp, etc. etc.). The problem is, I have absolutely no intuitive sense about which things will go with each other. Which means that I usually just end up with the same garden-style combo (greens, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, etc.)

I'd love to hear suggestions of your favorite flavor combinations. I'd even be open to suggestions for augmenting the existing bar with items from home (I have access to a small fridge, microwave, and toaster oven).


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  1. I never get a garden style combo when I go to a salad bar. I will get some cucumber slices and some cherry tomatoes or carrots, but I will dip them in something. I like to get green beans, peas, corn, beets (not pickled), garbanzos, seeds, eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, ham, turkey, chicken, etc. maybe cottage cheese & fruit. I don't get greens, croutons, tofu, little shrimp, etc.

    1. raisins, sunflower seeds, bleu cheese, corn, peas, garbanzos
      over greens with a balsamic dressing

      1 Reply
      1. re: AdamD

        Nix the bleu cheese and corn and I'm right there with you! I usually add some cucumbers and / or carrots for extra crunch.

      2. The grocery store near my work has a salad bar. I usually get a bit of spring mix andmplace on bottom. Tuna ( plain canned, not w/mayo) and cucumbers go in one corner with a couple pepperocini on top. I usually take a dib and a dab of things like taboule. Dessert is cottage cheese and beets.

        1. How about making cusine-based salads? Greek, French nicoise (tuna, green beans to start), American shrimp Louie with egg and thousand island, Asian with tofu, pea pods and hopefully a sesame oil dressing. Well, that 's a start, difficult to get more specific without knowing what they have in vegs and dressings. Oh...spinach with mushroom, berries, walnuts and blue cheese dressing.

          1. I'm always a bit embarrassed about my daily salad-bar salads... I think people must look at them and think, "Ugh, gross!" But... I typically do baby spinach and some "spring mix," then top it with hard boiled egg, shredded carrots and cabbage, quinoa, chickpeas, kalamata olives, feta, lots of sunflower seeds and some olive oil/salt/pepper. I normally would add cucumbers and tomatoes, but since the bars usually charge by the pound, it gets too expensive to do that. Then, I take cottage cheese and mix it in like a low-fat dressing -- this is probably disgusting to 99.9% of everyone, but it works for me. It makes it creamy, but without the chemical-and-preservative-laden salad bar creamy dressings. I usually take a pasta salad or bean salad on the side.

            1. I LOVE a good little salad bar!! What about: Spinach or Spring mix, with bean sprouts, shrimp, tofu, peanuts if they have them, and whatever ginger-spiked or Asian-type dressing is there? Or something Cobbish: lettuce, shrimp/chicken chunks/whatever; tomatoes, avocado, hardboiled egg, bacon crumbles, blue cheese if they have it, or the dressing if they don't ( shredded cheddar with the vinaigrette wouldn't be a Cobb, but
              would still taste great too.)

              1. I always start off with a base of spinach/"spring mix", then add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, garbanzo beans, and shredded carrots. Some chicken (you can warm some up in your microwave if you wish, but cold is fine). I heat up some of those Lightlife Smart Tenders Savory Chik'n. Now I'm not one for fake meat, but these are phenomenal, and so easy! Like anakalia, I make my own "dressing." I add silken tofu cubes and a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette and mix then together in the salad, and it makes a creamy tasty dressing that one of my favorites. My other favorite combo is Annie's Green Garlic dressing (my favorite bottled dressing) and a bit (not as much) of the silken tofu. A good amount of grinds of black pepper, and i'm in heaven :)

                1. I go one of two routes:
                  1) Spinach and spring green mix w/hardboiled egg, chickpeas, cucumber, mushrooms, tomatoe, black olives those crispy fried noodle things, and ranch dressing.
                  2) Spinach and green mix w/all the marinated veggies and beans, cucumber, w/ no added dressing.

                  1. I really like a mix of iceberg lettuce, red onions, garbanzo beans, cottage cheese, and red wine vinager. The cheese and vinager blend into a nice dressing for the rest.

                    1. Arugula, nut, fruit (Apple, pear or peach), onion, cheese (esp. Blue or goat) and balsamic vinaigrette.

                      Spinach, grapes, onion, sunflower seed, celery,

                      My favourite salads almost always have nuts, cheese and fruit.

                      1. My typical salad from Whole Foods Salad Bar:
                        Romaine and baby spinach
                        shredded carrots
                        Julienne zucchini and summer squash
                        ( a couple of cucumber slices)
                        Shredded Parmesan cheese
                        When I am ready to have lunch, I will add chopped apple and cranberries ( if I have them).
                        I skip the dressing and instead use a little fresh lemon juice.
                        I will also randomly add strawberries to salad as well. I don't think you can really go wrong with many different combinations. I think you should basically just add what you like.

                        1. Holy macaroni.....thank you everyone for your responses! This helps a lot. The Arugula+fruit+strong cheese+nut combo is one of those ones I feel like I should have thought of myself, but didn't. I love the "cuisine-themed" salad ideas, too (Asian, mediterranean, etc.)

                          Just in case anyone was wondering what actual items are in the bar, I wrote them down today. I'm sure this changes seasonally:

                          Greens: spring mix, spinach, romaine, and arugula
                          Cheeses: feta, blue, cheddar, and a shredded white (parmesean? mozarella? Sadly, couldn't tell from looks alone)
                          Veggies: beets, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, red bell pepper, edamame, carrot,
                          Beans: kidney, garbanzo
                          Fruit: pineapple, dried cranberries, apples (whole) oranges (whole), plus there is frequently a mixed fruit salad-type thing available
                          Proteins/nuts: chicken, tiny shrimp, boiled eggs, tofu, bacon, walnuts, roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds
                          Others: quinoa, croutons, Goldfish
                          For dressings they had four types of vinegar (rice, white wine, red wine, balsalmic), EVOO, and many prepared dressings....ranch, blue cheese, italian, thousand island, honey dijon, cesar, balsalmic, and a peanut kind.

                          Again, thanks for all of the great ideas. I'm going to use them!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kellyray

                            That is a fantastic looking salad bar.

                          2. My go to salad-bar salad is:

                            Bed of spinach
                            Lots of onions
                            Cherry tomatoes
                            Hardboiled eggs
                            Tons and tons of green peas
                            Sunflower seeds
                            Blue Cheese Dressing

                            Depending on my mood sometimes I'll had picked jalapenos or green olives if available.