Diners are seeking meals with fresh, clean ingredients, and salads certainly fit that bill. Lately, there’s been an increased interest in three classic preparations. Here’s how chefs are reinventing them.
Who says iceberg lettuce lost its appeal? This mid-century mainstay is on the rise again, thanks to renewed diner appetite for classic wedge salads. The sturdy, un-wilting crunch power of iceberg lettuce holds its shape and pairs perfectly with rich, creamy blue cheese dressing in a traditional wedge salad preparation.
Fresh take: Iceberg isn’t the only vegetable that works well in wedge format, according to cookbook author Robin Asbell. “A wedge of roasted red cabbage can be topped with traditional blue cheese dressing or a zingy aioli,” she says. “The wedge holds its shape very well, and it’s a salad that’s appreciated by diners on low-carb or Paleo diets.” Plus, with a traditionally short ingredient list, wedge salads are an easy addition to clean-label offerings. Simply use clean-label salad dressing on a wedge of your choice.
The ingredients for the classic version of a cobb salad come with a handy acronym: “EAT COBB”—egg, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion, bacon and blue cheese. This delicious combination is said to have been created at Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, where it became a signature dish in the 1930s. Years later, it still holds plenty of diner appeal.
Fresh take: “You can add just about anything you want and still call it a cobb salad,” Asbell says. “Just remember that it works best if you layer contrasting colors next to each other. Try a diagonal layout, or a vertically layered one, for visual interest.”
Caesar salad was first served in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1924, by Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini. The original version included Romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, Parmesan cheese, soft-boiled eggs, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. (Cardini’s brother, Alex, was inspired to add anchovies a bit later).
Fresh take: To switch-up your Caesar, Asbell recommends starting with the crunchiest bits. “Croutons are such an essential element of a Caesar salad, so that’s a good place to include your own creative twists,” she says.
Instead of using bread-based croutons, she suggests cubing veggies such as parsnips or sweet potatoes, adding spices, roasting them at high heat and sprinkling them on a finished salad. Asbell makes a “California Caesar” with avocado, daikon radish and crab or sashimi-grade tuna. “I slice a California roll on top in place of traditional croutons,” she says.
One of the easiest ways to update these three classic salads (and others!) in accordance with current food trends is to make them clean label. Most salad ingredients are already fresh and clean, so often all it takes is switching to a cleaner dressing. Try Marzetti® Simply Dressed salad dressings. Available in gallons for efficient back-of-house use, these high-quality dressings are made without MSG, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, soybean oil, or gluten. Use Marzetti®’s imaginative, healthy flavors and simple clean ingredients to bring classic salads up-to-date.
This post is sponsored by T. Marzetti® Foodservice