There is little more beautiful than a glorious salad of mixed greens, with the textures and colors contrasting the perfect bowl! Everyone’s taste in salads and styles will be different, so this guide is intended to help you find what will be distinctively yours, yet an aesthetic triumph for your presentation at the table.
The salad will have its own color theme, whether it is a multi-ingredient dinner salad, or chef’s salad, or perhaps just a garnished mixed salad. Other possibilities would be a heavier, more monochromatic salad of pasta with vegetables or potatoes and vegetables. Contrasting the color is a key to showing off the salad – what is your style? Just be sure the bowl is deep enough to hold the salad, allowing for some action while lifting the salad with tongs or salad forks, larger or smaller. Salads are textural by nature, and so the bowl can be smooth and substantial – yet not too heavy to lift, unless on a buffet table.
Solid wooden bowls are always nice, and take on a lovely patina after many uses. The natural look of wood goes well with the leafy textures of greens. A vinaigrette type dressing, or anything with oil in it, will add to the seasoning of the wood. The classic Caesar or Greek salads which call for rubbing a clove of garlic around the bowl are nice in a wooden bowl, too, with the slightly porous seasoned wood retaining the flavor of the garlic. Matching wooden utensils are also easy to find, from very formal with porcelain or silver handles to hand-carved and artistic free-style ones.
Another approach is to utilize a tempered clear glass bowl that shows the layers or can be frozen. You can even make your own bowl of ice, for a refreshing and totally crisp salad as well as a dramatic presentation. The frozen ice-bowl is simply made by freezing water in a bowl, with a slightly smaller bowl resting on top of the water. Oil is rubbed or sprayed on the bowls to facilitate easy release as a mold for the ice. Placing a few violets or nasturtiums or other edible flowers or herbs into the water makes a delightful decoration. The bowl is then presented on a bed of ice in a tray, to contain any defrosting while the meal is served.
Simple pottery bowls are always correct. A tossed salad is a fairly informal side dish, so pottery makes a fitting presentation. Textures, colors and shapes are almost endless…the looser the salad, the more allowance you can take in choosing bowls. The creamier salads or dressings would call for a smoother bowl, especially if you are the one doing the dishes afterwards. Deep blues, bright colors, black or white can all make a strong statement for your table. Keep the bowl in proportion to the amount of salad, and consider having two salads for a long table with many people. A buffet could handle a huge bowl quite dramatically.
There are lovely silver or porcelain bowls, as well the opposite, in formality, such as serving your salad in a bucket or a tight basket, which will probably need a liner. Your imagination can kick in, here, and your guests will be delighted. Here’s to healthy and artful eating!