Bourbon Smoked Duck Salad from Masonic Village,
Lafayette Hill, Pa.With summer just around the corner, foodservice operators are updating menus by adding cold or lighter main courses in the form of entrée salads to their warm-weather menus.
Besides offering visually appealing greens, fresh vegetables and fun toppings, entrée salads allow chefs to experiment with a wide variety of proteins, from chicken and beef to non-meat options such as quinoa, lentils and soy foods.
With the continuing increase in the emphasis on health, operators are finding that their customers are willing to embrace all types of additions to their summer salads.
Hunting for health: “I serve just company executives and they are all health buffs,” says chef Richard Ramos, who manages the foodservice at Cisco in San Jose, Calif., for Bon Appétit Management Co. “They prefer whole grains.”
To meet that demand, Ramos often chooses quinoa, for its high protein content. The chef first toasts the grain, then boils it. He then teams the quinoa with smoked turkey tossed with roasted cherry tomatoes and arugula, dressed with a sherry vinaigrette. Dried cranberries, Parmesan cheese and pumpkin seeds garnish the salad.
“Quinoa [is] light and fluffy,” Ramos adds, “and it fills you up.”
Like Ramos, Rocky Galloway, production supervisor for patient services at the University of Missouri Health Care network in Columbia, Mo., also serves entrée salads designed with health in mind. Galloway uses red lentils in salads, also for the legume’s high protein level. Another benefit: Lentils spice up Galloway’s patient menus with an innovative flair, especially his curried red lentil salad with goat cheese.
“Red lentils are underused,” says Galloway. “I’ve always been a fan of their flavor and texture. I’m looking for things that are a little offbeat and interesting. Food is 50% of your entertainment, outside of the TV, when you’re lying in a hospital. Food is a big part of the healing process.”
Galloway says the salad’s mixture of lentils and goat cheese increases protein counts, making this dish a good option for those patients who need extra protein in their diets. From a culinary standpoint, Galloway says goat cheese pairs well with lentils. To add extra spice, he seasons the salad with garam masala. He also selects red lentils, which turn a shade of orange when cooked, for their visual appeal
Galloway boils the lentils for about six minutes. He says the salad’s flavors are best incorporated if the curry vinaigrette is added while the lentils are still warm.
Seafood solutions: For a salmon salad, Galloway prepares a lemon dill vinaigrette that includes olive oil and capers. He tosses roasted salmon pieces with small diced, roasted potatoes and sliced, toasted almonds, which adds a different texture.
“The almonds give a crunch,” Galloway says. “I hate to get [dishes] and everything is soft.”
He describes his salmon salad as being similar to a tuna salad but with a “cleaner” flavor. The dish is a favorite at Missouri Health Care.
Matthew J. Burek, director of Dining Services for Flik Independent School Dining at Noble and Gree-nough School in Dedham, Mass., a coeducational, nonsectarian day and boarding school for students in grades seven through twelve, grills shrimp to top a quick kimchee-type salad. For the kimchee, Burek marinates finely sliced Napa cabbage, onion, scallion and red peppers for an hour in red wine vinegar with sesame oil, chili oil, fresh ginger, sugar and red pepper.
At Oracle in Redwood Shores, Calif., Chef Armando Maes, of Bon Appétit, prepares a tuna salad that he calls “Liguria-style.” Maes layers large chunks of house-cured and slow-poached tuna, cooked egg, pitted black olives and raw sliced baby fennel, artichokes and peas over day-old or grilled bread.
Maes slow cooks the tuna immersed in olive oil. Once chilled, the fish is dressed with salsa verde prepared with capers, parsley, cooked egg and anchovy. For a heartier protein salad, Maes combines bitter greens, including chicory, and tops them with warm grilled flank steak. Shaved fennel, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette finish the dish.
Spanning the globe: In a similar manner, Chef Tom Tannozzini tosses together grilled sirloin and a gorgonzola blue cheese dressing at Masonic Village, a retirement facility in Lafayette Hill, Pa. Basil-marinated tomatoes and white beans dressed with olive oil, garlic and parsley accompany the steak salad.
For a Mexican-influenced salad, Tannozzini plates warm grilled tilapia with a cool Mexican cheese, jícama and pickled carrots with cilantro. Greek-style pork tenderloin salad gets a lemon-oregano vinaigrette with white balsamic. Tannozzini places the pork over mixed greens tossed with feta, tomatoes and kalamata olives.
He creates an Asian flair with charred chicken thighs marinated in a vinaigrette that includes sweet Thai chili sauce, cilantro leaves, fish sauce, scallion tops and garlic. That dressing also flavors Asian mixed greens combined with water chestnuts, ears of baby corn, bean sprouts and blanched snow peas. The greens and veggies become a bed for the chicken.