With so many people eating healthy or managing their diet by eliminating certain ingredients , why not throw your own “Salad Bar”? This is a bar even the pickiest of friends will happily belly up to!

a tablescape with a light blue tablecloth, two bowls of salads, bowls of peas, carrots, zucchini, sesame sticks and glasses of water

Maybe because I’m a product of the 80’s, but I love a good salad bar. My friends and I would spend lazy Saturdays (or Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays) at one of our fav lunch spots Barry Bagels. Barry’s, as we call it, still has hands-down the best salad bar I’ve ever visited.

My favorite was to top romaine with lots of feta cheese, green English peas, sesame sticks, crisp bagel pieces and big chunks of ham. I don’t really love ham but for some reason, Barry’s ham reigned.  And the ranch dressing? Oh man, I can still taste it.

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Throw your own salad (or Bowl) bar

tomatoes on a wooden board with a red pepper, hardboiled eggs, grated carrots, zucchini and lettuce

Why not gather some friends, have everyone bring their favorite ingredient all prepared in a bowl and you provide the base (lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula—even rice, quinoa or farro!) and the dressings to create the theme, if you want. Here are some tips to make it all happen:

  • Assign each guest a topping category to give them some direction and help you control the layout, cuisine and menu. Sample categories include:
    • crunchy toppings (i.e. sesame sticks, sunflower seeds, crunchy bagel pieces, nuts)
    • cheese (feta, blue, ricotta salata, sharp grated cheddar, grated smoked gouda)
    • veggies (grated carrots, crisp English peas, diced peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onions)
    • proteins (diced hard-boiled eggs; shredded chicken;ham chunks; Italian meats like prosciutto, diced pancetta, sopressata; flaked tuna or salmon)
    • extras (sweet raisins, cranberries, sprouts, corn relish anything you can think of!
  • Choose dressings that are fan favorites like blue cheese, French or balsamic vinaigrette.

two mason jars labeled pesto vinaigrette and marscapone ranch with a sprig of basil

Easy Pesto Dressing

Looking for a great easy Italian dressing? I love Costco’s pesto. It is good on so many things including vegetables, as a sauce for pizza or a base for a bruschetta with some fresh mozzarella and  diced tomatoes on top. And…it makes a great salad dressing.

two mason jars labeled pesto vinaigrette and marscapone ranch with a sprig of basil.
5 from 1 vote

Pesto Salad Dressing

Turn store-bought premade pesto into the best salad dressing or sauce for chicken. So simple!
Prep Time:5 minutes
Total Time:5 minutes



  • Whisk the first four ingredients together in a low, shallow bowl or mason jar.
  • Slowly whisk in olive oil until an emulsion is created. Alternatively, put the lid on the mason jar and shake until the ingredients are incorporated.


  • Can stay in fridge for up to 2 weeks. Shake before using.
Course: dressings
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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