Let’s get something straight. If diners order an entrée salad, they are looking for something sensible to eat. The presumption is that the salad is not a calorie bomb. And they don’t want to be left hungry. It’s called an “entrée” for a reason.
So why do so many restaurants offer such “weak” options?
What Not to Do:
- Offer a salad that is too small.
- Not filling.
- Calorie bomb.
- Not tasty.
- Too much dressing or bland dressing.
- Devoid of good veggies—real green veggies. Too many salads have cucumber, carrot, and tomato. These are fine but there needs to be much more.
- Too many caloric treats and not enough bulk.
What to Do:
- Serve it in a bowl and don’t be stingy with the greens. Ensure that it’s nearly overflowing. It makes the customer happy
- Offer flavors, e.g., Mexican, Asian, Italian, traditional, etc., and then offer accompaniments that go with the theme.
- Get with the salad dressing program. Oil has little flavor, and when a customer requests the dressing on the side and it’s oil based, it’s really hard to get any of the flavors without a ton of caloric oil. Ask your customers: Do they use oil dressings at home—ones that separate? I doubt it. Dressing should burst with flavor and not require constant mixing.
- Use a 2:1 ratio. What’s this? An easy formula for creating a veggie-heavy salad. For every “treat” topping, there should a minimum of two real veggies. Any entrée salad should have about three treats (nuts, croutons, berries, avocado, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon bits, olives, etc.) and then six veggies (steamed broccoli, green beans,red pepper, mushrooms, grilled zucchini, red onions, tomatoes, etc.).
- Fresh herbs can do wonders. Sprinkle fresh basil on an Italian-flavored salad and it will come alive.
- Mix up the greens. Arugula and spinach are much more interesting than romaine.
- Don’t forget the protein. It should always be just as good as what is offered on the rest of the menu, and it should begrilled or prepared in a healthy manner.
- The Caesar salad exception. None of the above really applies to a Caesar. Anyone ordering a Caesar knows it’s not healthy. And those ordering one appreciate the calories! It’s a treat on its own.