Tag Archives: squash casserole

The Whole Foods Salad Bar: A User’s Guide

Gentle Readers, it is serious confession time. I love the Whole Foods salad bar in a way most people reserve for God and Country. I love the variety. I love that I didn’t have to prep 1 million individual ingredients. I love the fresh crispy vegetables and the potential of using squash casserole as a topping.

Shredded beets and two cubes of tofu, yes please. Whole Foods Salad.

Shredded beets and two cubes of tofu, yes please. Whole Foods Salad.

That’s right, squash casserole. Don’t judge. Here are my tips to making the most of your trip, without taking out a second mortgage.

The Whole Foods Salad Bar: The Practical Cook Way

1. Limit the salad dressing. Nothing cranks up the cost like too much dressing. Also, it overpowers your careful selections. Let other things flavor your salad, like couscous, quinoa, egg salad, fruit, etc.

Quinoa can add flavor, and is typically already dressed. Whole Foods Salad.

Quinoa can add flavor, and is typically already dressed. Whole Foods Salad.

2. Diversify your offerings. There are so many things from which to choose, don’t get caught loading up on any one thing. If the salad is just for you, take one of each kind of tofu, one tomato, one broccoli, and so on.

Yes, that is squash casserole on top.

Yes, that is squash casserole on top.

3. Don’t skip the hot bar. The vegetables don’t stop at the edge of the salad bar, try steamed green beans and asparagus, cooked carrots, salsa, squash casserole (can’t recommend that enough), the sky’s the limit.

Whole Foods Quinoa and Firecracker Slaw: Working Mom Food

Whole Foods Quinoa and Firecracker Slaw: Working Mom Food

4. Meat is salad too. This will cost you your weight in gold, so limit the addition. However, the smoked meat bar is perfect for a single wing, a portion of brisket, or the top of a rib (skip the bones).

5. Sweet, Crunchy, Salty. The best salads are balanced in composition. Look for different ways to bring color, texture, and taste. Try unusual combinations. If you’re stuck, employ your kids to assist. They don’t come with the same barriers and restrictions you do in terms of “right” and “not right.” Be prepared to eat some combos that would be best on Man vs Food. My favorite right now? Adding a piece of fried yucca on the top.

Whole Foods Salad Bar, I love you.

Whole Foods Salad Bar, I love you.

What’s your favorite trick or foodstuff at the Whole Foods Salad Bar? Post a comment here or on the Facebook page, or Tweet my way!

Send heavy items, good ideas, and legitimate questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Sunday, Weekly Menus!

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Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Restaurant Reviews

Summer Thanksgiving on a Sunday Night

The Practical Cook adores a challenge, especially a vegetable challenge. When life gives you a bountiful harvest, why not have a Thanksgiving feast? Sunday Dinner went vegetarian with Complicated Veggie and her crew on board. If you want to test your culinary skills, invite them over, they earned the moniker from being vegetarians who all dislike different things, sometimes all at once. Don’t even think of waving a shitake at CV.

But I digress. Special thanks to CV Tall for coming up with the name Summer Thanksgiving, which captured the feeling of the event very nicely. Vegetables were cooked, and we got out of the way of their flavor. I was also inspired by two Algonquin Books cookbooks (Bill Smith’s fantastic Seasoned in the South and Dori Sander’s cookbook) and two from Workman (Crescent Dragonwagon’s awesome The Cornbread Gospels and Cheap.Fast.Good! from Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills). So there was much inspiration around this table.

Here’s the menu:

Cucumbers and Onions: I opted not to grind black pepper in them this time, due to the low spice tolerance of the audience.

Cucumbers and Onions

Cucumbers and Onions

Sliced Tomatoes: Home-grown, purple cherokees, and sungolds, with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, mayo on the side.

Sliced Tomatoes with a Dab of Mayo

Sliced Tomatoes with a Dab of Mayo

Black-Eyed Peas: Home-grown, picked and shelled by The Practical Cooks Junior, with an assist from TPC’s Mom.

Black-Eyed Peas in the RInse Cycle

Black-Eyed Peas in the RInse Cycle

Butterbeans: The trick is a LOT of butter. Thanks to the waiter at Acme in Carrboro who tipped me off to that one.

Butterbeans Before the Butter

Butterbeans Before the Butter

Fried Okra: Medium high heat, medium heat with a cover, and a final sizzle. Perfect for the non-battered non-deep-frying home cook. And no potatoes in my fried okra, thank you very much. I never could abide by that.

Fried Okra, Dori Sanders Style

Fried Okra, Dori Sanders Style

Corn on the Cob: Pulled and shucked by The Practical Cooks Junior, with much pride and little oversight. Rock on you two.

Fresh Corn!

Fresh Corn!

Tractor Cornbread: This is, shhhh, one of the “Northern Cornbread” recipes from The Cornbread Gospels, very sweet and cakelike. I wanted a sure bet and a larger recipe to fill up the tractor pan.

Tractor Cornbread, Just Because I Can

Tractor Cornbread, Just Because I Can

Mashed Potatoes: They were late to the table and eaten fast, but I promise they looked good and tasted delish.

Freshly Dug by The Practical Cooks Junior

Freshly Dug by The Practical Cooks Junior

Squash Casserole (with a Soda Cracker and Parmesan Crust): I love squash casserole, but my crew does not. Of course, Team CV did, so it was a victory lap for me.

Simmer Simmer Squash Casserole Pot

Simmer Simmer Squash Casserole Pot

Squash Casserole with Soda Cracker and Parmesan Topping

Squash Casserole with Soda Cracker and Parmesan Topping

I’m sort of tired just typing this up, much less making it. I’m a pretty efficient cook, but this took some effort. However, the leftovers rocked out, and the company was well worth it. Next time I send out a call for help in eating up vegetables, you’ll know I’m not kidding! And, everyone left the table full, with just enough room for chocolate ice cream in a cone outside with the fireflies.

Summer Thanksgiving Feast

Summer Thanksgiving Feast

What do you cook for a crowd in the summer? Post your ideas here, or as a video response on YouTube.

Send your vegetable request and recipes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading the Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, the antithesis of vegetarianism, Foie Gras Tasting from the top of Las Vegas.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, On the Table