Build Your Salad On A Skewer For An Easy, Fresh Handheld

We love finger food. Not only is single-serving party food adorable, but it gives people a taste of the dish without committing to a whole plate. While there's still a place for mini mason jars and take-out containers, nothing is more fun and nostalgic than food on a stick. Along with traditional grill options like meat and veggie shish kabobs and childhood favorites like corn dogs and popsicles, composing a salad on a skewer, frilly toothpick, or bamboo stick is a fresh and exciting way to enjoy all types of salad. 

Salads can be divided into six categories — green, vegetable, fruit, legumes, grain, and mixed (containing meat and seafood). They can be served throughout the meal as a starter, side dish, entrée, or dessert, creating unlimited options for building a delicious salad on a stick. 

This presentation transforms a "fork and knife" dish into a convenient handheld version, which makes it ideal for hosting. No longer is the traditional crudité platter the only way to offer fresh veggies, as all of your favorite salad recipes, with raw and cooked ingredients, can be adapted into a skewered version with ease.

How to assemble salad on a stick

Aside from the cuteness factor, our fondness for food on skewers stems from a scientific phenomenon known as retronasal olfaction. Subjectively, how food tastes to you is highly impacted by how it smells, which is why food doesn't taste as good when you're sick and congested. Since food on a stick is closer to your nose when you eat it, you enjoy it more, making a solid case for serving more recipes this way.

When assembling a salad on a skewer, cut all the ingredients bite-size and lay them out, mise en place. Tear lettuce into 1 ½ inch pieces or use mini whole-leaf varieties like baby romaine lettuce. Hard ingredients like raw carrots are challenging to pierce, so thinly slice denser components into coin-shaped pieces to make them easier to skewer. 

If the salad only has two or three ingredients, like watermelon and feta bites, which are refreshingly salty and sweet, select 6-inch-long toothpicks or skewers for a striking presentation when lined up on a platter. Salads with many ingredients, like a chef's salad, can be presented on longer 12-inch skewers lying down. 

As you assemble the skewer, alternate ingredients, textures, and colors to make it visually appealing. It's important to season each skewer before serving so every bite is tasty, since individual components will be enjoyed one at a time.

Delicious salad ideas

Skewer a Caesar salad, alternating baby romaine lettuce, anchovies, shaved Parmesan cheese, and croutons. Homemade croutons, still chewy in the center, are better and tastier than dried supermarket versions that crumble when pierced. Or try a traditional steakhouse salad with iceberg lettuce, thick bacon, and grape tomatoes served with blue cheese dressing. 

Dress up a garden salad by placing baby kale, carrot coins, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, radishes, and boiled shrimp on a skewer with a green goddess dip. Add apple slices, grapes, and walnuts to make a Waldorf salad or feta, baby spinach, red onion, kalamata olives, and pepperoncini with a lemon-oregano dressing for a Greek salad.

For a fresh take on Salade Niçoise, skewer cherry tomatoes, baby Bibb lettuce, boiled baby red potatoes, steamed green beans, hard-boiled eggs, and Niçoise olives with a red wine vinaigrette. Use long skewers for a Cobb or chef salad, adding hard-boiled eggs, slices of roasted turkey, thick bacon, croutons, and grilled chicken chunks with buttermilk dressing.

Caprese salads with grape tomatoes, fresh basil, and bocconcini mozzarella (drizzled with good olive oil) are the perfect hors d'oeuvres, but add cooked tortellini or a thin slice of Genoa salami folded into quarters, and it becomes more of a meal. 

Don't forget that salad is just a vehicle for dressing. Oil-based vinaigrettes can be lightly drizzled on the skewer, and creamy options like ranch should be served in small cups for dipping.