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Grains, Beans & Veggie Planter Box Salads

Chef Joni
Surprise your guests by serving their salad in a planter pot --they look like little gardens! Change this into a dessert, and use crushed oreo cookies as the "dirt" with strategically placed nuts and fruit.
Servings 4 servings


  • 4 (4-inch) plastic planter pots
  • parchment paper (to line the inside of each planter cell to cover up the holes on the bottom)


  • 4 butter lettuce leaves or more to double layer
  • 11/2 c. cooked grains and or green lentils any combination will do
  • 11/2 c. chopped veggies of your choice scallions, bell peppers, celery, carrots, etc.

Salad dressing (vegan)

  • 1/2 c hummus I like the garlicy version
  • 1/8 c water to desired thickness
  • 1-2 tsp dijon mustard spicy mustard is good too
  • 1 tbls lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp maple syrup, if needed optional


  • 12 mini pearl tomatoes 3 for each pot
  • 4 marinated mini mozzarella balls 1 for each pot
  • 4 parsley or cilantro sprigs 1 for each pot


  • Chopped black olives for more "dirt"
  • Chopped black beans for more "dirt"
  • Chopped nuts to mimic gravel-like soil


  • Line each planter with parchment paper. Cut the paper large enough to come up the sides, but keep below the height of the planter.
  • Put the lettuce leaves inside the planter, molding them to the size and shape of the planter. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix the grains (and lentils if using), the chopped veggies and the salad dressing.
  • Scoop this mixture into each planter, about 3/4 cup each.
  • Strategically place the tomatoes, cheese and parsley.


At the table, I served these pots with a plate so that the guest can tip their pot onto the plate to eat it easily as a lettuce wrap or serve with a knife and fork to cut the lettuce into bite-size pieces.
For larger portion size, use 1/2 gallon planter pots, or mini terrariums.
Add nuts to mimic rocks and stones.
Add edible flowers to add beautiful texture and color.