The incredible edible salad has changed significantly over the years from your traditional iceberg lettuce, Roma tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and boring stale croutons with ranch. Today salads are something to get excited about in the food industry! Salads can be light and crisp, but they can also decadent and hearty. Regardless of what you are in the mood for, I bet there is a salad out there somewhere that will satisfy your craving. In the catering world this is exciting stuff to see a variety of menus go out with salads as their main courses. And, from a food lovers point of view, salads are a great way for every kind of chef to explore different tastes and flavors. From a buttery delicious lobster salad served with watercress lettuce, bright cherry tomatoes and and rustic homemade crouton sticks to a sweet balsamic and berry spring mix salad with toasted pine nuts and almonds, salads are more versatile than your traditional main dish!
One of the advantages to eating a salad is of course the vegetables, but that does not mean only vegetable have to go into your creations. Exploring with pastas, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and herbs is a great way to turn your boring everyday house salad into a mouth watering entree. Also creating homemade salad dressing is super easy and can add a whole new dimension of flavor. Another “hot” trend in salads is grilling your ingredients. Romaine lettuce seems to work best for these kinds of salads, while arugula or spinach are amazing for wilted ones. Of course you can always add flavorful grilled, marinated, or pickled vegetables to just about any kind of leafy green to create a scrumptious meal.
Although the salad is making its debut in the catering world as a versatile vehicle for other delicious ingredients and substituting heavy meats and starches, it does present a bit of a challenge for events. This is primarily because the majority of catered food is prepared ahead of time. With salads if you chop your lettuce too early it will brown, likewise if you want it to have hot elements those items need to be prepared on the spot. Also dressing a salad prior to serving it will give it a short shelf life, so timing is everything. For these reasons catering and event with salads should not automatically be thought of as the least expensive option, but instead a great alternative to your standard faire!