classy and elegant finger salad cups - no fork necessary!

Fessing up here, I have a thing for cutesy individual sized foods, I can’t help myself.  I think maybe in one of my past lives I must have been a caterer, or event planner or something.  I love little crisps, crumbles and  layered salads in mason jars, and appetizer dip cups that encourage you to eat and mingle at the same time.  These salad cups solve the age old problem of how to serve salad to a crowd, especially an outdoor crowd.  No more awkward gymnastics with tongs, no more soggy paper plates…or soggy salad for that matter…all you have to do with these elegant finger salads is grab one and go.  You don’t even need a fork.  Problem solved.

an easy way to serve salad to a crowd - individual salad cups with rhubarb vinaigrette

And I’m very happy with today’s post because I’m also giving you a bonus – a killer recipe for Rhubarb Vinaigrette, which could have been a post all by itself.  It’s creamy, tangy, fruity, and really good.  Pretty too!  You can make it a day or two ahead and save yourself time.

fresh rhubarb vinaigrette

I spooned a good bit of dressing into the bottom of each plastic cup, and then arranged my lettuce leaves and veggies on top.  I put colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes on a pick for easy dipping.

finger salad cups are easy to assemble

You get extra points for tucking in a few fresh herbs, like basil and thyme.  If you like you can slip slices of cucumber onto the rims of the cups.

Fresh and pretty individual finger salad cups for entertaining

You can see I used endive lettuce, and that’s important because this is finger food, and you want the leaves to have some ‘backbone’ to them, to hold up to being dipped and eaten by hand.  I used both green and red endive, but you could also use very small romaine leaves if you can find them.  Isn’t this fun?

healthy and colorful finger salad cups

The important thing is that you use really fresh ingredients.  These cups won’t look very appetizing with wilted lettuce or wrinkled tomatoes, so use whatever looks good at the time you’re shopping.  And while you can make the dressing a day or two ahead of time, I recommend you assemble these shortly before serving.

Individual Salad Cups with Rhubarb Vinaigrette

Yield: 8 salad cups

Individual Salad Cups with Rhubarb Vinaigrette


    rhubarb vinaigrette
  • 6 Tbsp fresh rhubarb puree (recipe below)
  • 4 Tbsp champagne vinegar (or other mild white vinegar)
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard (I used whole grain)
  • 4-6 Tbsp mild olive oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper
  • salad cups
  • 8 plastic tumblers, the kind that flare out, not the straight ones (mine were 10 oz)
  • 8 appetizer picks
  • 1 head green endive
  • 1 head purple or red endive
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 8 scallions
  • about 16 green beans
  • 8 radishes
  • 16 snap or snow peas
  • about 24 small multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 8 small radishes
  • fresh basil and/or thyme leaves for garnish


  1. To make rhubarb puree, wash and trim the ends off of several stalks of rhubarb. Cut them in 1 inch pieces.
  2. Put the rhubarb into a saucepan and add a splash of water. Bring up to a boil, turn down the heat, and summer it for about 5-10 minutes until the rhubarb softens. Add a little bit of extra water if it runs dry.
  3. Let the mixture cool a bit and then puree in a small food processor. Measure out 6 tablespoons for the dressing recipe.
  4. To make the Rhubarb Vinaigrette put all the ingredients in a small food processor and blend until creamy. Taste and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking. Refrigerate until needed.
  5. When ready to assemble the cups, spoon 2 tablespoons of the dressing into the bottom of each cup.
  6. Trim the ends off the endive and carefully separate the leaves. You will need about 3 leaves per cup. Trim the leaves as necessary, from the bottom end, so that they extend an inch or so above the rim of the cup, as shown in the photos.
  7. Cut the bell peppers and carrots into thin strips and layer them into the cups, along with the trimmed green beans, pea pods, and scallions.
  8. Thread 3 tomatoes onto each skewer and add it. Finish with the radish and herbs for garnish.
  9. The cups should be full but not crowded. Assemble just before serving.

adorable finger salad cups with rhubarb vinaigrette for effortless entertaining

Guess what? One month from today my oldest daughter is getting married!  She and her boyfriend are very particular about how they want to do it, though.  Just the two immediate families, no pomp, no circumstance.  No flowers, not even a cake!  (I know.)  They are trying to buy a house, and have an admirably frugal attitude toward money.  I am so proud of them for that, it’s just that my inner ‘event planner’ is itching to break loose.  Maybe that’s what motivated these little salad cups today, I don’t know…but you guys have to help me find a creative way to get around that cake ban!

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36 Responses to Individual Salad Cups with Rhubarb Vinaigrette

  1. This is such a unique and healthy recipe. I never would have thought to make “salad cups” and put a little dressing down the bottom. Definitely something I’m trying for lunch tomorrow!

  2. jenny says:

    These are fabulous we have been having them at least 2 x per week as appetizers and i make it with strawberries because my rhubarb is gone because i used all of it.

  3. Ann says:

    These look beautiful – what a work of art!! Would I be able to substitute agave or some other sweetener for the honey? Also, would it be the same amount of 4 tsp.? Thanks so very much, Sue!

  4. Kay says:

    Daughter married with similar feelings so we gave them money, they used as a down payment on a
    house. They were married on the deck of the house with family and a few friends.

    • Sue says:

      I think it’s a great way to go – weddings have gotten crazy lately, and the newest study says that the less a couple spends on their marriage, the longer and happier it will be :)

  5. Suzan says:

    This might be one of the most beautiful food things that I have ever seen. I am looking forward to making it for my next gathering.

  6. Erica Chapin says:

    These are great! I am planning a camping birthday party and am definitely going to make these! Thank you so much. As for the cake – a surprise reception for friends and family with a cake shaped like a house and a request for financial-house-help as gifts? Good for them and good for you! I love celebrations.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog.

    • Sue says:

      Haha, great idea Erica! And these cups will be perfect for a camping party, just be careful about keeping everything fresh and crisp. Thanks for stopping by :)

  7. Choclette says:

    These are such fun and super cute too Sue. What a splendid idea. As for that rhubarb vinaigrette, you are a genius. I love rhubarb, but would never have thought to do this with it.

    As for the cake – make one anyway and just say it’s from you to wish them luck. It doesn’t have to be too fancy, just delicious.

    • Sue says:

      I hope you try the vinaigrette, it has such a nice berry-like tang, and you can’t beat that color. As for the cake, I think I will just do that, ;)

  8. sassygirl says:

    practical? sadly, no. I could
    never serve this at a dinner–
    people would be looking to
    invert and dump it onto a
    plate to get the total taste of
    the salad. but…pretty. thnx
    for posting.

    • Sue says:

      Well, I envision that you would carry them around, appetizer style. If you don’t provide a plate, they can’t dump it ;)

  9. Sippitysup says:

    Crudité to go! Fabulous. GREG

  10. They are too pretty to eat, Sue. Definitely my kind of food.

  11. cquek says:

    Delicious recipes

  12. I have such a thing for cute food too! And these are too cute! I have got to try these sometime!

  13. savvy says:

    These salads are a work of art, and I am blessed with rhubarb in my backyard!! thanks, sue!!

  14. These are too cute!! And they are so pretty to look at! Great idea!

  15. Absolutely stunning. Such beautiful photos and I’m loving the rhubarb vinaigrette :)

  16. You are the queen of gorgeous garnishes! Your crown is made of fresh picked flowers and vegetables! You make the perfect party food – so when I come for a visit – let’s eat from cups and jars :) Gotta try this dressing :)

    • Sue says:

      What a pretty thought – when I was married I had a flower garland around my head, I haven’t thought about that in so long! Thanks Tricia!

  17. I have a secret obsession with individual portions too. These cups are the cutest, salad has never looked so good ;). And that vinaigrette! How pretty!

  18. Susan says:

    As one of my friends always says ‘Stinkin’ Cute’! What a great idea for a BBQ party or a picnic. I can’t wait to try the rhubarb vinaigrette as my plants are getting bigger every day.

  19. Are you sure you weren’t a caterer? I love these and since I just discovered rhubarb I am adding it to my list. I am also pinning this for a bridal shower I’ll be giving for my daughter’s best friend. I know it is hard to hear as we age, so perhaps you didn’t hear the “no cake” thing? Or perhaps cupcakes? Congratulations, Sue! so much good news.

  20. These are NOT salad cups! They little cups of exquisite artwork! Oh my word they are so beautiful. Please invite me to your next party. I’ll be the one hanging out at the salad cup table, staring!

  21. Wow! This is just stunning, Sue! I can totally see this at a bridal shower or even a cocktail party. A perfect and unique addition for anything from a picnic to a gourmet dinner!! Gorgeous photos, too!

  22. TheKitchenLioness says:

    Sue, very elegant and colorful looking servings of fresh springtime vegetables – the rhubarb dressing is completely new to me, I have never seen a dressing using this lovely spring vegetable before! Individual servings are always a huge hit with our kids (and myself):
    Beautiful presentation all around. A great mix of veg and sprouts and all – almost to pretty to eat.

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