Try Our Fabulous Salad Bar

During these hot midsummer days I sometimes enjoy a cool salad rather than a hot meal. The other day, as I was putting together yet another romaine salad with leftover grilled chicken, I started thinking about all the various salads and such that we made at Lista’s.

In the early 1970’s Lista’s was one of the first restaurants in the area to offer a salad bar with all its meals. My Dad had our first salad bar specially constructed by a local handyman, Jacques St. Pierre, and it was made from a sheet of 4′ x 8′ plywood painted gloss black (very chic). The plywood top had several round holes cut into it that held stainless steel bowls of the various salads and toppings. This sat over a similar sized galvanized tin pan filled with ice so the food bowls would stay cold. This sat on a table with a plexiglass “sneeze guard” over the top.

Since I was the younger sibling and couldn’t work in the main “service” kitchen I did lots of prep work for the salad bar in the back kitchen — when I wasn’t washing dishes or scrubbing pots and pans. Cutting up cases of lettuce and tomatoes; slicing bags of onions (while shedding lots of tears) and shredding hundreds of carrots, purple cabbages, and red radishes on the old Bromco box grater. I skinned my knuckles so many times on that thing! That box grater is the only thing I have left from the restaurant. I keep it on my bookshelf as a reminder of my Dad and the way we made everything from scratch back then.

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At Lista’s we had always made all our salad dressings from scratch and over time we created dozens of home style salad items to go on the salad bar. Some time later we started putting out large loaves of locally made breads so that customers could help themselves… and eventually added fresh made soups and a hot pasta entree to make the salad bar a self serve buffet at lunch time.  This was cutting edge at the time and Lista’s was well known for having a great salad bar.

During that time my family drove around in a baby blue VW Microbus with a magnetic plastic sign advertising Lista’s Italian Restaurant. My son has one of those old signs hanging in his kitchen and as you can see it invites everyone to “Try Our Fabulous Salad Bar.”

So today I’m giving you three of my personal favorite salad bar recipes. Each one is a little different and represents the variety of items we would have featured at Lista’s.  I hope you can give them a try and share them with your family this summer.

Lista’s Carrot Raisin Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes (soaking raisins)
Serves: 4-6 servings (about 3 cups)

1 lb Whole Carrots – peeled
1/2 cup Raisins – soaked
1/2 cup Crushed Pineapple
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
2 TBS Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt

1. In a small microwavable bowl add raisins and 1 cup water and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Remove and allow to soak for 15 minutes – drain and cool.
2. Shred carrots on the large hole of a box grater and place shredded carrots in a large mixing bowl. Add pineapple, soaked/drained raisins, mayo, brown sugar and salt. Blend together until incorporated and coated with dressing.
3. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or more before serving.

Lista’s Italian Four Bean Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes (if using fresh beans)
Makes: 8-12 servings (about 6 cups)

1 can Cut Green Beans – drained and rinsed
1 can Cut Yellow Wax Beans – drained and rinsed
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans – drained and rinsed
1 can Garbanzo Beans – drained and rinsed
1/2 large Sweet Onion (such as Vidalia) – very thinly sliced
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Chopped Fresh Basil
1 tsp Sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp Salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 clove Fresh Garlic – minced

Note: You can use garden fresh or frozen green and yellow beans — just trim and cut into 1 inch pieces and cook quickly in boiling water (about 10 minutes) until just tender. Cool and use instead of canned.

1. In a large mixing bowl combine the green, yellow, kidney and garbanzo beans. Add the sliced onion.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, chopped basil, sugar, salt, pepper and minced garlic. Pour dressing over beans and toss to coat.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before serving.

Lista’s Corn & Rice Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes to cook rice/corn relish
Makes: 6-8 servings (about 4 cups)

2 cups Cooked White or Brown Long Grain Rice
2 cups Corn Kernels (fresh or frozen/thawed)
1/2 medium Sweet Onion (such as Vidalia) – finely diced
1/2 medium Red Bell Pepper – finely diced
1 stalk Celery – finely diced
1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard (such as Colemans)
1/4 tsp Celery Seed (optional)

1. Cook rice according to package directions (1 cup rice to 2 cups water) and cool to room temperature.
2. In a medium saucepan combine the corn, onion, red pepper, celery, vinegar, sugar, salt, dry mustard and celery seed (if using).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for until vegetables are tender – about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. In a bowl combine the cooked rice and corn relish. Adjust salt if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before serving.

There you have it… three of my favorite salad recipes from the Lista’s Fabulous Salad Bar. These would be a nice addition to a family picnic or potluck or as a refreshing side dish with grilled steaks, chicken or burgers.

Thank you for reading my blog — we love to hear from you. Please take a minute to Like the posts or leave a comment or share a memory of Lista’s Italian Cuisine. You can leave a comment by clicking CONTACT in the main menu or by clicking on any title under Recent Posts — scroll to the bottom of the page and Leave a ReplyYou will be required to enter your email but that won’t be publicized.

Until next time remember, “The Sauce Makes the Difference!”

3 thoughts on “Try Our Fabulous Salad Bar

  1. Thank you for sharing your memories and recipes with us. I remember making the restaurant a regular spot for lunch and occasionally dinner. Yummm!


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