Internationally influenced salads provide a lunchtime foray into a variety of different flavors, each with hidden health benefits.
Vietnamese spices and Mexican heat are just a few of the flavor profiles found in non-commercial operations, where global salads take diners on a culinary journey.
Dell, in Round Rock, Texas, has been a testing ground for a new global-themed salad menu called Bibbs International Greens, which was created by Bryan Norris, district chef for Eurest Dining Services, which manages the account. Norris developed his new concept to make a change from the main dish salads that have been traditionally served in a deep-fried taco shell. He created 30 individual recipes based on “your basic Greek or Thai recipes” that are served instead in fresh Hydro Bibb lettuce cups.
“You can eat it as a lettuce wrap or just eat it out of the cup,” Norris says.
The chef created the Bibb concept for Dell’s headquarters and rolled it out nationwide in January. He says Dell easily serves thousands of Bibb salad cups a week. A typical day’s offering at Dell Dining would include a chicken-based salad, a beef selection and a vegetarian plate. A recent Bibb menu featured Tuscan chicken lettuce cups, which included chicken pieces mixed with fresh mozzarella cheese, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, fresh thyme, basil and oregano; Thai beef lettuce cups made with beef slices sautéed with shiitake mushrooms, cabbage and green onions; and caponata lettuce cups, a vegetarian selection of eggplant, roasted red bell pepper and capers tossed with olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and balsamic vinegar. The menu was created to offer healthier meals after season of heavy holiday eating.
“[Bibbs International Greens] was something we rolled out right after the holidays, trying to be healthy,” Norris says. “It’s an alternative [to the norm] and makes it easy for the customer so they don’t have to wait in line for a long time to prepare their meal. Plus, they like the variety.”
Local ingredients: Cynthia Lategan, senior executive chef for residential dining at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., is serving a variety of hot and cold global salads with ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers and whole grains sourced locally. The hot and cold salads are served daily in two locations at a prep station loaded with different cold ingredients and two induction cookers. Each station serves two different proteins, including a vegan option, which are placed on top of made-to-order salads. All have a base of chopped romaine lettuce.
Lategan says options include a sizzling Greek salad made with sautéed portobellos, cucumbers, roasted garlic cloves, red and green peppers, grilled chicken (or tofu) fajita strips, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, diced eggs tossed with Greek vinaigrette salad dressing; and a sizzling mediterranean salad, which includes tabbouleh with couscous, tempeh or grilled chicken strips, garbanzo beans, field greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli florets, feta cheese, and Greek vinaigrette dressing.
The café at Esteé Lauder’s corporate office in Melville, N.Y., featured four similar global salads this spring during a two-week promotion in April. The salad selections hail from the company’s Greenleaf Cuisine program, which is an initiative that promotes the use of local produce.
As part of the promotion, Michael Panarello, chef manager for Whitsons Culinary Group at Esteé Lauder, created an Oriental sesame ginger salad made with an Asian noodle base with ginger, teriyaki, soy, sesame oil, chopped bok choy and baby corn. Other options included an Italian chicken caprice flatbread salad that featured mesclun lettuce, mini mozzarella balls, chopped plum tomatoes, chopped garlic and a wedge of garlic flatbread croutons, tossed with an Italian dressing; and a Tuscan Asiago chicken flatbread salad made with a mesclun greens, herb-marinated chicken, garlic flatbread croutons, chopped Roma tomatos and topped with shaved Parmesan and prosciutto.
Road tested: North Haven, Conn.-based contractor Host America offers a Global Cuisine initiative, which is where the company does its experimentation, says Leigh Osborn, sales and business development manager. Host America chefs display their creations via the company’s Cruising Cuisine, an on-the-road tasting program.
“It’s a true traveling chef program; we’ve been doing it for years,” Osborn says. “Several full-time chefs travel around the country and put on a show each week. We use Cruising Cuisine for improving ingredients and the experimentation of new concepts and flavors that go into other programs.”
One of those concepts is Amazon Grill, a restaurant-type concept that features the flavors of India, Pakistan and Asia with authentic ingredients. Osborn says the concept has featured an Indian-inspired brown rice and
asparagus salad, which starts with cooked brown rice that is topped with grilled asparagus, red pepper, green onion, cucumber, chopped green chili and apple. That is tossed with a spicy vinaigrette made with unseasoned rice wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice and a combination of toasted cumin seeds, coriander seeds and mustard seeds. Another option is a Thai noodle salad that combines rice noodles soaked in hot water with shredded napa cabbage, green onion, snow peas, shredded carrots and bean sprouts, tossed with a dressing made by whisking together chopped fresh ginger, chunky peanut butter, unseasoned rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and blended oil.
A healthy goal: St. John Medical Center, in Tulsa, Okla., is all about providing healthier foods, says Janet Potts, director of food and nutrition services. She, along with Dietary Manager Linda Branch and Executive Chef Miriam Young, oversee the preparation of foods at the hospital’s Health Plaza Café. The café was redesigned three years ago to focus on fresh global foods including several salads.
Potts says the café offers 12 composed salads every day such as a mushroom balsamic lentil, which is made with cooked lentils and mixed with sautéed white button mushrooms, diced red onion, celery and red bell pepper, served with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. St. John also offers a new Greek salad at the salad bar, made with a romaine lettuce mix and the choice of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, pepperoncini, black olives and feta cheese.
Fresh World Flavors
New menu uses global salads to please all diners.
When Parkhurst Dining Services took over culinary operations at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., last summer, Executive Chef Frank Hummel created a whole new campus menu. He quickly found that his students, especially the vegans and vegetarians, wanted more variety. Culling fresh produce, much of it from DelVal’s own farm, he created a global salad menu to keep pace with Parkhurst’s Hemisflavors concept. Hummel’s signature mango nut salad is an homage to the tropical flavors of the Caribbean Islands.
“We feature foods from different cultures that have authentic ingredients throughout our menus. It’s easier to create vegan and vegetarian meals that way, and you can offer a lot more fare. We feature vegan and vegetarian composed salads every day. We were looking to create a Caribbean-influenced salad because summer was coming and we wanted some lighter fare. We had pineapple in one dish and strawberries in another, so we thought we’d use mangoes. The mango nut salad is made with grilled mango halves, walnuts, pecans and julienned red onion served with three kinds of lettuce leaves: romaine, red leaf and mesclun. We toss it with olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and a raspberry vinaigrette and season it with fresh basil and thyme.
It’s not a really labor-intensive dish but something that could be thrown together easily. Most of my recipes are pretty simple. Sourcing ingredients is easy as well; most are things we use on a daily basis like fresh herbs and lettuce. We source those from campus when they are available. Lately we’ve been getting bok choy, spinach and radishes. Last semester we had some nice red leaf [lettuce] and some romaine. It depends on what the students are growing. I get most of our produce from our purveyors and some special ordered for other recipes. If we can’t get mangoes, we’ve used strawberries and grilled pineapples instead. Same thing with the nuts: if you don’t like walnuts, throw in some toasted almonds. If someone makes the salad before me, they usually use the grilled pineapple. The mango nut salad is popular with students, but some say it’s better with the grilled pineapple. It gives the salad that sweet and charred flavor.
We offer two composed salads daily, like the mango nut salad or a roasted veggie salad. We also offer a slaw-type salad, like an Asian vegetable slaw, to give a variety of textures as well as tastes and regions. Our roasted vegetable salad is made with leeks, squash, zucchini, tomatoes and parsnips. We put olive oil, salt and pepper on the vegetables to roast them. We garnish it with scallions and fresh sprigs of herbs like chives, thyme, fresh basil. We season it with salt, pepper and fennel seeds.
For the Asian vegetable slaw we use bok choy, authentic red chili paste, yucca root, carrot, zucchini and squash—to give it a nice yellow and green color—all julienned fine on a mandoline. Sometimes I add mushrooms for color. We toss it with a sesame vinaigrette made with black and white sesame seeds and rice wine vinegar. My recipes are not set in stone. I like having that leeway; that’s one of the things I love about my job.”
Mango Nut Salad
Yield: 6 to 8 portions
2 each mangoes, peeled, seeded
1/4 oz. walnut halves
1/4 oz. pecan halves
1/2 head romaine lettuce, washed, chopped
1/4 head red leaf lettuce, washed, chopped
1/4 head mesclun lettuce, washed
1/4 each red onion, julienned
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup raspberry vinaigrette
3 leaves fresh basil, separated, chiffonade
3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped fine