May is National Salad Month, and operators are celebrating by tossing up the season’s peak ingredients in fresh new ways. Spring lettuce mixes are in ample supply, offsetting the romaine advisory still in effect due to last month’s E. coli outbreak.
That scare isn’t stopping operators from introducing spring salads, although some are issuing assurances or eliminating romaine from the mix. Here’s how those operators and other fast casuals are filling the salad days of May—and fulfilling demand from health-conscious consumers.
1. Building a smarter salad
Just Salad partnered with Food52, a recipe and lifestyle site, to launch the Food52 Genius Salad. This salad of the month features superfood ingredients such as beets, pickled red onions, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and avocado on a bed of kale and red cabbage. Just Salad is offering another special this month—the Unlimited Salad Bowl. Taking a page from Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass, the chain sold 100 reusable bowls for $99 each. Purchasers can order a salad a day throughout the month of May, translating to a nearly $7 savings per salad, on average.
2. Protein power
Square Roots Kitchen, a new fast casual that specializes in build-your-own salads and wraps, introduced two protein-rich composed salads for the indecisive customer. The Recharge Salad is a mix of seasoned chicken breast, steamed edamame, walnuts, sliced carrots, goat cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette on a bed of kale and radicchio. SRK’s Spring Salad starts with the same seasoned chicken breast, adding in avocado, dried cranberries, walnuts, mozzarella cheese, and poppy seed dressing on a bed of leafy greens.
3. Make Monday salad day
To celebrate National Salad Month, Starbird, a chicken concept with locations in the San Francisco Bay area, launched #PositivelyDeliciousSaladMonday. The promotion gives customers a discount of $3 on a salad of their choice. Menu items such as the Mediterranean (crispy chicken, vegetables, hummus, za’atar chickpeas and tahini dressing), the Green Goddess Cobb and the Asian Chicken salad come in at $7 every Monday instead of the usual $10.
4. By way of Morocco
The Biiblos is Freshii’s limited-time bowl making it to the menu this month. The health-focused fast casual tapped into Moroccan flavors to create this salad, which is built on a base of quinoa and spinach and topped with chickpeas, walnuts, feta, carrots, cucumbers and dried cranberries. The ingredients are tossed with a housemade harissa tahini dressing to give the salad a bold Moroccan accent.
5. Adding a tropical twist
Qdoba Mexican Eats is bringing back a seasonal favorite—mango salsa—and debuting the Chicken Mango Salad to feature the condiment. The fruity salsa is a blend of chopped mangoes, red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice. It’s a key component in the new salad, which also includes grilled adobo chicken, romaine lettuce and cilantro-lime dressing piled onto a crispy flour tortilla shell.