Avoiding the Iceberg


Customers demand has decreed that salads go beyond iceberg lettuce and a few tomatoes. These days creative salad concoctions such as a salad of summer nectarines and grilled loin of venison are a great way to grab customer's attention, while still giving them the fresh salad options they crave. 


Six chefs take a fresh look at ingredients and presentation.


Baja-style salad rolls

The arrival of spring inspired Adam Navidi to go on a roll with salad ingredients. “My avocado Caesar spring rolls are simple to replicate and fun to eat,” says the Orange County, Calif. executive chef. “The delicate, garden-fresh romaine and cilantro contrast with the mighty Caesar dressing infused with jalapeños.” Hass avocados, tomatoes and red onion round out the produce picks. These salad rolls often star at Navidi’s catered events.

Palms house salad

Salads and oceanfront dining are naturally compatible and the menu at The Palms in Miami Beach offers plenty of choices. A guest favorite for a light lunch is the signature house salad—a lively mix of mesclun, yellow and red tomatoes, avocado, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries; crumbled mild blue cheese tops it off. When creating a salad, executive chef Gerd Richter keeps an eye on health, often incorporating Floribbean flavors and tropical accents.


Caprese salad

Alessandro Passante, co-owner of Naima in New York City, hails from the Isle of Capri and a number of the dishes on his modern Italian menu are adapted from family recipes. To ramp up the presentation of this traditional antipasto, the kitchen shapes a salad bowl from grated and baked Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fills it with arugula, tomatoes and bufala mozzarella. Italian olive oil is drizzled over all.

Salad of summer nectarines and grilled loin of venison

Farm-to-table dinners are a specialty of chef Robbie Lewis at Bacar restaurant in San Francisco. In fact, he is well known for his “Outstanding in the Field” events, where dinner is set on a long table “between the soil and the sky” and hosted by a farmer, vintner or forager. This seasonal salad highlights fresh California nectarines, Belgian endive, toasted pistachios and grilled loin of Cervena venison—an innovative protein choice. Rosemary-honey vinaigrette ties the ingredients together.

Tuna tataki with avocado dressing

Vertical composition and global ingredients make this salad stand above the crowd. At Sushi Samba, the 7-location Japanese-Latin fusion concept, the plating starts with a base of tatsoi (an Asian green), hearts of palm, bell pepper strips and avocado pieces, then continues with starchy boniato chips, yuzu-marinated yellowfin tuna and avocado slices. A citrusy avocado dressing completes the composition.

Spago BLT salad

Eric Klein, executive chef at Spago in Las Vegas, wanted to turn the baby iceberg lettuce he sources from a California farmer into a signature salad on his café menu. “I came up with the idea of a BLT—the classic flavors of bacon, lettuce and tomato work so well together,” he says. Heirloom cherry tomatoes and a pepperoncini vinaigrette enriched with sour cream pump up the presentation and taste.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

Managing Your Business
umass amherst food

Restaurateurs in Amherst, Mass., aren’t happy with UMass Dining .

Registered dietitian Dianne Sutherland told local NBC affiliate WWLP News in May that the high quality of food served on campus means students aren’t visiting neighborhood eateries as frequently as those businesses might like.

“Even our vendors who we work with, they get complaints from the restaurants that students are staying on campus,” she said. “They are already paying for the food; why should they [go] off campus to eat?” More than 19,000 Amherst students are on a meal plan—6,000 of whom live off campus...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

Managing Your Business
farmer produce

The seeds of farm-to-table 2.0 have officially blown into noncommercial foodservice. Since the movement has caught the attention of the segment during the past decade, operators have broadened agricultural collaborations outside of just supply. As a result, a new strain of the movement has been created that treats farms as allies in events, training and innovative growing systems.

The 500-bed Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., didn’t start out sourcing produce from local farms; instead, it administered its own growing programs, including an on-site garden and honeybee apiary...

FSD Resources