When It Comes To Salads Almost Anything Goes

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Chefs put their mark on greens in new and exciting ways

Chefs put their mark on greens in new and exciting ways

Restaurants are pulling out all the stops to ensure that salads are bold and beautiful these days.

Toppings such as spicy nuts, pureed purple onions and crispy potatoes are just a few of the complements that chefs are using to liven up the greens.

“Nowadays people look at the ingredients in salads and look for the new and different,” says Kathy Hayden, who is a foodservice analyst at Mintel.

“I am always curious to see how far or how wacky salads can go and still be considered a salad.”

Hayden says operators are mixing super fruits and vegetables such as grilled peaches and grilled asparagus or summer squashes. “Also, I see a lot of strawberries, grilled pineapple, mangoes, and roasted beets in salads.”

With 27 restaurants throughout Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C., the Greene Turtle is a popular casual-dining spot for locals and features several salads on its menu.

“Currently, we have nine entrée salads on our menu,” says Bob Barry, the concept’s chief operating officer, who says that these days healthy eating isn’t just talk.

“We have added things on our menu for the health-conscious, and we are seeing a lot more salads. The trend is that people really are ordering more healthfully and not just talking about it.”

For a salad to be a big seller, Barry says, the lettuce leaf has to be cut well, and the salad must be boldly flavored and have activity.

“Ideally the salad should have several ingredients that marry well so that every last bite has that uniqueness to it,” he says.

The Greene Turtle’s popular salads include its Apple Walnut Salad, with mixed greens, apple wedges, walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries and a sweet Vidalia onion dressing; Jamaican Chicken Salad; BLT Wedge Salad; Southwest Chicken Salad; and its newest addition, Steak Fajita Salad.

One of tahe hottest trends identified in the National Restaurant Association’s 2010 Chef Survey is locally grown produce, which is enthusiastically embraced by Rob Perez, owner of two Saul Good Restaurant & Pub locations in Lexington, Kentucky.

I think a perfect salad has to have the freshest ingredients possible,” Perez says. “A great entrée salad has to have something to really sink your fork into. It has to be complex and have several complements that give it some strength.”



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