In the distant past, if a consumer ordered a salad for lunch, it implied he or she was following a boring diet recommending lettuce leaves, cottage cheese, and a tomato.
Fast-casual restaurants are popping up all over the country, offering salads to entertain all palates. By adding ingredients that are healthy and hearty, the one-dish wonder continues to take the world by storm as customers return to locations that add creativity to every bowl.
Businesses have jumped on the health kick with gusto as more customers focus on nutritional value in their diet. Grains are a beneficial addition to salads because they are rich in protein and fiber, while also being gluten-free. More importantly, they add a hearty mix to the bowl, are filling, and they add excellent texture with each crunchy bite. Quinoa, wheat berries, and farro are popular additions to the latest salad trends, and grains like faro appeal to customers who appreciate ethnic authenticity.
Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
Your customers appreciate seasonal salads because they interpret them as fresh, and assume they are more likely to be locally sourced. Adding winter squash during the colder months or wild cherries during the summer will entice those who appreciate the farm to the table movement. Strawberries in May, asparagus in April, or pears in October are sure to gain a following that will return for more throughout the week.
Lettuce is No Longer the Sole Star
An odd twist on the salad is that it doesn’t have to be based on lettuce anymore. Noodle salads made huge inroads with the allure of Asian cuisine. Vietnamese noodle salads incorporate chilled rice noodles mixed with an explosion of flavors coming from peanuts, shallots, or lime, to name a few. Japanese yakisoba noodles mixed with chicken, mango, shrimp, and sesame will thrill the adventuresome palate.
Dressing is King
Dressing will remain as an ingredient for adding flavor to salads. Dijon mustard is a mainstay for an added kick, but sherry, ginger, and sesame are close seconds when ‘dressing-up’ a salad, as are honey and vinegar. Look to white balsamic, cilantro, and raspberry walnut to entertain discerning customers.
Don’t forget the tried and true, however. Green goddess is making a retro comeback as restaurants whip up their version in-house. One dining room took the traditional Caesar dressing and added fried capers and prosciutto chips to the mix.
Finally, remember that your business’s creativity can entice more repeat business by incorporating the old standbys with a new twist, and add innovative flavors for the adventurous consumer.