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Saladworks crowd-sources salad inspiration

Every couple of months, the Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Saladworks introduces a limited time “named” salad. The SpringFit ($6.99)—a mix of lettuces fresh-tossed with chicken, egg whites, snow peas, carrots, almonds and grapes—is currently running until the end of May at all 106 locations. Here’s how it came to be.

The inspiration

Seasonality and flavor drive all Saladworks’ LTOs, but guest feedback played a big role in the SpringFit. “Through social media, we heard our customers clamoring for certain foods, especially fruit,” says Saladworks president Paul Steck. “They were also looking for lighter, fresh, of-the-moment ingredients that herald spring.”

Building the bowl

Creating a good balance of color, texture, taste and nutrition was key. The salad starts with a custom-blended spring mix specified to include tender, lighter, sweeter greens with no bitter varieties; it’s delivered in bulk cartons—never bagged. The chicken is all-natural white breast meat, grilled and frozen for delivery. Snow peas and shredded carrots add crunch and fiber, while toasted almonds provide color contrast and “superfood” status. Red seedless grapes fulfill the fruit request, plus “they’re the right size, nice color and require little effort in the kitchen,” Steck notes.

Two dressings into one

When it came to dressing the SpringFit, the R&D team wanted something light to showcase the ingredients. “We had two existing dressings in our stores—Oriental Sesame and Lemon Capri. We combined them in the right proportions to come up with the perfect Lemon Sesame Vinaigrette for this salad,” Steck explains. He adds that the sesame brightens and elevates the lemon flavor and operationally, the dressing was very easy to implement.

Impressive nutritionals

The SpringFit clocks in at a svelte 350 calories with the dressing and only 215 without. Each 18-ounce serving boasts 19 grams of lean protein, thanks to the chicken breast, cooked egg whites and almonds.

Tossed aside

Other fruits and vegetables were given tryouts in the Saladworks test kitchen. Fresh asparagus tips were high on Steck’s list; their crunchy texture worked well, but waste and expense were issues. “We also looked at strawberries, but they break down quickly unless they’re sliced to order. That would have been too labor intensive.” Blueberries were also considered, but grapes were a better size.

Looking ahead

The next named salad will debut in fall, and once again, R&D will tap into social media for crowd-sourced ideas. Apples are a possibility, reports Steck, and “we’ve also played around with pumpkin seeds and a pumpkin vinaigrette.”

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