We recently shared an article on Facebook about a new restaurant trend report from Technomic. Their article revealed some surprising information regarding two menu staples: soup and salad. According to Technomic’s new Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, 46% of consumers visit a certain restaurant specifically because they enjoy the soup it offers, while 43% of consumers visit a restaurant due to its salad offerings.
Soup and salad are favorites of the American diet due to their simple and often healthy nature. With so much focus on healthy eating, it is no wonder that consumers repeatedly turn to these two menu items when seeking a lighter fare.
In preparation for the warmer temperatures of spring and summer, now is an excellent time to take a look at the salad offerings on your menu. Salads are a versatile menu item that can be frequently updated or changed to highlight seasonal produce or locally sourced items.
Based on the report’s findings, if there is one thing that consumers crave along with their salad it is variety. Consumers want options in the way of portion sizes, bundled add-ons like soups or sandwiches, dressings and protein choices. A large portion of consumers also indicated that they look for uniqueness when it comes to salad offerings. Salad creativity can be accomplished by offering unique types or mixtures of greens, or even going a more non-traditional route by offering trendy grain-based salads that feature quinoa or farro.
Below are a few salad recipe ideas that offer a unique and creative spin on some classic salad ingredients:
This recipe for Rainbow Carrot Ribbon Salad from Proud Italian Cook takes the humble carrot and transforms it into an amazingly delicious and colorfully creative dish.
Multi-colored carrots, peeled into colorful ribbons.
Slivered red onion
Toasted pine nuts, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
3 parts good olive oil to 1 part wine vinegar, a splash of balsamic, 1 smashed garlic clove, a dollop of dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, ground pepper to taste. Whisk everything together.
Combine the ingredients as listed, determine the amounts by taste. Use a large bowl to toss and coat every thing completely then place your salad on a platter.
This super crunchy Asian Salad from The Endless Meal is crispy and full of delicious flavor. This salad is amazing on its own, or pairs perfectly with grilled steak, chicken or fish.
2 carrots, grated
1 red pepper, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
¼ medium red onion, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Optional: ¼ cup roasted peanuts
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 small clove of garlic, grated (preferably with a microplane)
Salt to taste
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
Toss all remaining ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Pour over dressing and toss to coat.
This recipe for Nashville Capri Salad from Honest Cooking, was inspired by a trip to a local farmer’s market in Nashville, TN. This towering stack of layered yellow zucchini, heirloom red tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil pesto puts a creative twist on a classic recipe.
Two yellow zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
Two or three small tomatoes, sliced in ¼ inch rounds
Two medium-sized balls fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
½ cup pesto*
For the pesto:
½ clove of garlic
⅓ cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons pine nuts (or walnuts),
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 packed cup fresh basil
Season with salt if desired
Combine all pesto ingredients in food processor, and mix until smooth and creamy.
* This recipe requires a somewhat thicker pesto than would normally be used for tossing with pasta. If you use your own pesto recipe, just be a little more stingy than usual with the olive oil and/or add some extra pine nuts. You want something more like a spread than a runny sauce.
Slice zucchini and sauté over medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned. Season with salt to taste. Neatly layer zucchini, tomatoes, cheese and pesto as you like, beginning and ending with zucchini. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil or a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.