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Creative Salad Ideas for a Cocktail Party
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To pull off a fabulous cocktail party, the food you serve not only needs to be scrumptious but also gorgeous. Putting a salad in a large glass bowl is nice, but why not try something more creative and interesting? In a previous article, Salad Decoration In a Cup, I mention how a beautiful salad presentation can perk up your party guests' appetite as well as lessen the need to adorn your buffet tables. The creative salad ideas I'm about to share with you will serve the same purposes. However, they are easier and less time-consuming than those tricks presented in my other salad article. Why? Because there will be no vegetable carving involved. Instead, we'll focus on how to create salad "containers" with natural and edible materials. Doesn't that sound fun and eco-friendly?
***Each of the following salad recipes is for only 1 - 2 servings. Please multiply the amount of each ingredient for more servings, using the same ratios.***
Tuna Salad in Bell Pepper Cups
I always think there's something very sexy about red bell peppers. That's why all of my bell pepper cups are red! If you prefer your buffet table to look more colorful, however, you can use green, yellow and orange bell peppers as well. Your guests can choose to eat the salad and discard the bell pepper cup afterwards if they don't wish to eat it. Or they can enjoy both the tuna salad and the cup together in the same bite. Think of it as a no-bake stuffed bell pepper!
Ingredients: 4 bell peppers, 2 cans chunky tuna (in water), 1 cup diced cucumber, 1 cup diced apple with skin, 1 green onion (thinly sliced), 2 tbsps mayonnaise, 1 tsp. lemon juice, dash of garlic salt and black pepper
Preparation: Drain the tuna. Combine all the ingredients (except bell peppers) in a large bowl. Toss together well. Remove the top of each bell pepper and the seeds. Stuff each bell pepper cup with the tuna salad.
Fruit Salad in Watermelon Bowls
This can either be a big appetizer or a healthy dessert. If you don't like peaches, grapes or mangos, feel free to tweak the recipe. Apples, pears, bananas and pineapples can be pretty nice substitutes. Stick a cute, little appetizer fork on top of each watermelon bowl. If it's a summer party, you may also garnish it with an orchid to render a tropical feel.
Ingredients: 1 small seedless watermelon (just about as big as your palm or slightly bigger), 1 small peach (chopped), 1 small mango, 10 red seedless grapes (halved), 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1/2 tsp mint extract
Preparation: Cut the watermelon in half. Use a spoon or ice-cream scooper to scoop out the pulp. Add the watermelon "balls" to a large bowl along with the other ingredients, then toss together well. Spoon the mixture into the watermelon bowls. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.
Stuffed Avocado Salad
There are two serving options for this. First option: serve each stuffed avocado on a bed of leafy vegetables, on a small serving plate. Second option: forgo the veggies and serve the stuffed avocados by themselves. You can either remove the skin from the avocados, or leave it on if your avocados are a bit too ripe and might fall apart. Your party guests should know not to eat the green leathery skin!
Ingredients: 1 avocado, 1/2 cup sliced or flaked smoked salmon, 2 tbsps chopped fresh tarragon leaves, 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, 1 1/2 cups fresh leafy vegetables of your choice
For the Dressing: 1/3 cup mayo, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Put smoked salmon, tarragon, thyme and 1 tablespoon of the dressing in another bowl. Stir together well. Arrange vegetables on a plate. Halve and pit the avocado. You may also remove the skin if you like. Place the avocado halves on the bed of vegetables. Fill them with the smoked salmon mixture. Add the rest of the dressing to the dish right before serving.
Tuna Pasta Salad in Tortilla Bowls
I first wrote about this main course salad in my article, Cheap Healthy Recipe for Two. Yet, since it's so budget-friendly, appetizing-looking, and easy to make, I think it can be great for a cocktail party as well.
Ingredients (for 2 servings): 2 cans (5 oz each) chunk tuna in water (drained), 1 small apple (cored and diced), 1 small cucumber (peeled and diced), 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (both stems and leaves), 3 oz elbow macaroni
For the Dressing: 1 tsp honey, 2 tsps yellow mustard, 4 tbsps fresh orange juice, 3 tbsps fresh lime juice, dash of salt and cayenne pepper
Preparation: Prepare the macaroni according to the instructions on the packet. Drain well, allow it to cool for about 10 minutes, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until cold. (To save time before the party, you can prepare the pasta the day before and refrigerate it overnight in an airtight container.) In a large bowl, combine tuna, apple, cucumber, cilantro and mint leaves. In another bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients together. Add the dressing to your tuna pasta salad, then toss together well. Make tortilla bowls and allow them to cool. Put your salad into each bowl, and it's ready to serve!