September 20, 2012 |

West Coast Chop Salad

By Jeremy White

It’s February, traditionally one of the coldest months of the year in much of the United States, and many of your customers are thinking about hot meals and soups. Your minestrone’s probably moving as well as ever.

Funny thing, though: your salads are still selling well, too, aren’t they? Without question, salad has moved from a summer dish to a year-round favorite. While you can’t expect your entrée salads to sell as well in February as in August, you certainly can expect to push your average guest-check by up selling salads as starters to the main course. Whether customers order pizza, pasta or osso buco, a fresh salad is an ideal appetizer.

Another great option is to follow The Olive Garden’s lead by bundling soup, salad and breadsticks at one low price as a means to drive the lunch daypart. The combination is particularly appealing to business workers who need a quick, filling lunch.

Give it a try. In the summer, six to eight different salads is a good number to offer on your menu if you’re full-service. In the winter, keep three to four available for ordering. In the case of delivery and carryout units, a minimum of two salads should make the menu at all times.

The beauty of putting together a good salad is that, like pizza, the ingredients you can use are virtually endless. The key is to use fresh, high quality produce (that you already have in house … no need to add additional inventory) and offer house-made or top quality bottled dressings. Your customers will take it from there.

Finally, you don’t need a recipe to make a good salad (get in the kitchen and experiment!), but we’re going to give you one anyway. Why? Because that’s what we do.

West Coast Chopped Salad

½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped into 1/8-inch wide strips

½ head romaine lettuce, chopped into 1/8-inch wide strips

10 basil leaves, chopped

12 ounces mozzarella, shredded

6 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes

2 pounds Roma tomatoes, diced

1 cup honey ham, diced

1 cup turkey breast, diced

¼ cup red onion, chopped

½ cup black olives, chopped

Toss all ingredients together in large bowl and keep covered in cooler. To serve, toss salad with requested dressing and serve on chilled salad plates.

Cook’s Note: You can replace the ham and turkey with grilled chicken or a combination of salami and pepperoni if you do not already keep ham and turkey on hand for subs.