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Salad ideas for a crowd?

  • m

We're having a party for about 50 people for our son's first birthday and are going to grill kabobs and do salads. The kabobs will be Moroccan style so I'm trying to come up with some salad ideas that have a sort of Mediterranean bent and would be easy or at least not too scary to make for 50.

Grandma is bringing a cucumber salad (sour cream, red onions) I was thinking of a quinoa salad and a green salad but would so appreciate your ideas and favorite recipes. Would love ideas that can be prepped or at least partially prepped 1-2 days in advance. If not quinoa, a substitute that would be as easy to make (I envision boiling potatoes for that much potato salad becoming a fiasco).

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Taboulee, tastes even better after a few day to marinate.

    1 Reply
    1. re: treb

      +1 on tabbouleh - this would go well with the kabobs; if you make this ahead, which you certainly can, I would hold off on adding the tomatoes until a few hours before serving.

    2. I would make a couple of very large bowls of Chopped Salad. You can cut most everything in advance and toss together with a light lemony (read Mediteranean) vinaigrette.

      For your menu I would chop:
      Red Cabbage
      Broccoli (chopped small this is a nice texture)
      Red Onions
      Cucumber (I would add these later for the watery factor)
      Halved Grape Tomatoes
      Red or Orange Peppers
      Adding some marinated pepper rings & olives would be nice.

      I made a similar type of "everything but the kitchen sink" salads for a homeless camp a friend was serving dinner to. She said everyone absolutely loved the salad.

      A sprinkle of feta or goat cheese on top right before serving would be nice.

      Have fun!

      1. I make a version of a quinoa salad that holds up well and generally pleases people - I do not really gave a recipe per se as it sort of evolves but it has a basis of Quinoa, Citrus fruit , usually oranges, and Avocado - I usually dress it will a cilantro/lime/garlic dressing - and keep the dice pretty chunky so it does not turn into a mush- there can be other ingredients but that is the basis -generally throw in some chopped Kale for extra color.

        1. Carrot Coin salad. Can last for over a week and gets better with age. If you don't normally have celery seed don't buy it just for this recipe, not needed. There are many variations on the web, this is close to the one I make. Some recipes don't cook the sauce, just whisk it all together. I think you need to cook it for best flavor.


            1. Israeli couscous salad can be made in advance (piece parts a day or two), for a change of pace. You can doctor it up as you want, obviously, so I don't really follow recipes but match what ingredients I can find/are in season.



              1 Reply
              1. re: chowser

                Yes, couscous! With roasted red peppers, thinly sliced red onions, crumbled feta and a vinaigrette. One of our staple summer salads (with tomatoes when they are in season).

              2. I find that green salads are rarely popular at things like this. They take up a lot of room on the plate, wilt if they're dressed ahead (or require separate bowls of different dressings set out, which can get messy), and are difficult to eat standing up.

                Since Grandma is bringing an all-vegetable salad, I would go with grain or pasta based salads for your other choices. Quinoa would be nice, or tabbouleh is a perfect Mediterranean choice. An orzo or Israeli couscous salad would be a great second choice. I'd make sure these salads were very different from each other by including dried fruit in one and more savory ingredients in the other.

                1. Some years ago for a party of that size, I did a salad bar. A HUGE bowl of mixed greens with all manner of toppings for DIY. It was quite popular.

                  1. taboulli... you can make it ahead (it's actually better for marinading in the fridge a day or two), and a fresh green salad made the day-of. To extend the theme, have hummus plates for dipping.

                    1. Totally agree with the "no green salad" posters. Grandma's salad sounds great. Any of the recommendations for salads that get better with age is awesome (tabouleh, orzo, couscous, the carrot salad, etc).

                      You could also do a salad/relish plate type dish with hearts of palm assorted olives, avocado, artichokes, etc.

                      1. Kabobs for 50...yes you need easy sides!

                        1. not an exact answer to your question, but:
                          i'd avoid any salad that involves refrigerating tomatoes at any time before they are served.
                          refrigerated tomatos become flavorless and mealy.
                          if they are cut up and are refrigerated in the salad long enough, they start "leaking" their juice as they wilt in addition to becoming mealy and flavorless.

                          my advice is to avoid tomatoes altogether for this event

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: westsidegal

                            At this time of year, if I use raw tomatoes in salad, I slice ahead of time and drizzle with some oo, s&p. It helps them a lot.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              I use grape tomatoes whenever possible because they do not need to be cut up and can be added at the last minute (so they can be stored at room temperature rather than with the rest of the salad in the fridge).

                            2. If you decide on the Tabbouleh bulgur salad, I can vouch for this recipe from Bob's Red Mill which made at least 20 servings and is best when made a day or two ahead. http://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes.ph...

                              The 3 C. chopped parsley equals 1 bunch as sold by my grocer. You can chop either with a chef's knife or (hint from another cooking board) stand the bunch in a glass and use kitchen scissors to cut off clumps in small pieces.

                              A nice add-in is diced red pepper, And you may also add a couple cloves of minced garlic. Allow people to salt it on their own.

                              1. I like these to recipes and you can prepare mostly in advance and just assemble shortly before serving.

                                Orzo with Roasted Vegetables


                                Orzo with Tomatoes, Feta and Green Onions


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: valerie

                                  Yumm to both of these Valerie! Great suggestions.

                                  1. re: valerie

                                    The orzo with roasted veg is one of my favorite recipes!

                                  2. Balilah (chickpeas) is one I have made for such things. It would go great with kabobs and tabouleh.

                                    Re cucumber salad, dairy products sitting at room temp are a common cause of food poisoning.

                                    1. Smitten Kitchen Chickpea salad with feta is delicious, healthy and lasts a couple of days.
                                      She also has a delicious spring panzanella
                                      I second the orzo with everything that was posted up thread.
                                      Asian sesame noodles?

                                      1. What about a couscous salad?

                                        Couscous, Chickpea and Cranberry Salad <print-small-icon.png>
                                        This is a beautiful salad to serve as part of a buffet meal. The sweet orange dressing goes so well with the dried cranberries, chickpeas and basil. Always have a container of orange juice concentrate on hand in the freezer for cooking and baking purposes; you can remove the amount needed while still frozen. **addition of sliced grilled chicken breast is very good!
                                        1 cup chicken stock 1 Tbsp olive oil
                                        1 cup couscous 2 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
                                        3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed/drained 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
                                        2 tsp grated orange rind 1/3 cup dried cranberries
                                        3 Tbsp liquid honey 1/4 cup chopped green onion
                                        1 tsp minced fresh garlic 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
                                        1/8 cup chopped basil or parsely

                                        Bring the stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat. Stir in the couscous, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, fluff with a fork and cool.
                                        Stir the chickpeas, cranberries, green onions, red peppers and basil or parsley into the cooled couscous.
                                        To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, orange rind, honey and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the couscous mixture and toss to coat.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: wylie1

                                          Please explain the frozen oj...how do you remove just a little bit if frozen?

                                          1. re: smilingal

                                            I leave the container in the fridge just until I can scoop out what I need. Then wrap and put back into the freezer. Or, defrost the container in the fridge and then keep in the fridge for another recipe. Or reconstitute the juice when I have time, using the 3:1 proportions.

                                            1. re: KarenDW

                                              Thanks! I forgot about cans of frozen oj...i was thinking a fresh container that you stuck in the freezer. Haven't seen those cans in forever.

                                        2. I just wanted to say this has been one of the most drool-worthy chowhound threads for me (can I come to your party? haha).

                                          One thing I didn't see on your menu --- pita bread.

                                          I know you were asking for salad ideas, but a basket of soft warm pita would be lovely here.

                                          Would also add hummus and baba ghanoush. Both make great dips for the pita.Both can be made in bulk and ahead of time.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: pedalfaster

                                            Oh yes, I second the hummus and baba (and pita). I love to dip kebab meat in baba ganoush and toum!

                                              1. re: pedalfaster

                                                If the OP does these dips they could skip a green salad and have a crudite assortment for dipping as a way of adding veggies to the meal

                                              2. You have some great suggestions here!

                                                I do disagree about the green salad though. You don't have to make a huge one - but some people (like me) love green salads. For this time of year use grape tomatoes - if you wish can be cut in two an hour or two before serving but not necessary. Juliemay's suggestion is excellent.

                                                People will take what they want of each. You have so many excellent suggestions here I'm sure the party will turn out wonderfully! Please let us know!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Jeanne

                                                  Make-ahead salads and dips are so practical. I'd offer a variety including: quinoa-based tabbouleh, carrot tzatziki (carrots provide color and won't make tzatziki watery while it sits), hummus, chopped Arabic salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, flat-leaf parsley, oil & vinegar dressing), assorted olives, store-bought rice-stuffed grape leaves.

                                                2. I made this carrot chickpea salad using chunks of roasted carrots instead of the shredded ones, was even better the next day:

                                                  For a green salad using hearty greens you could make it the night before. This salad with pomegranate seeds would also fit your theme: