Mark Branovan M.A.
Director, Hospitality Services
St. Luke's Hospital
"In lieu of premixed salads, we have a bulletin board where we post salad suggestions and recipes. It's a way for the less creative salad builders to try something new.
"We feature a lot of locally grown and organic produce on our menu as well. Our biggest challenge in Minnesota is that it's often difficult to source certain organic vegetables. Minnesota's growing season is much shorter than other parts of the country. However, we incorporate as many organics as we can from various suppliers. Our customers appreciate our efforts."
Loma Linda University Medical Center
Loma Linda, CA
"Because we are an entirely vegetarian facility, we feature a variety of salads that pair well with other items. We do a Coronado salad that has fresh garlic, white pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, Romano lettuce, tomatoes, chopped cilantro and, on top, we sprinkled queso fresco—a white, slightly salty, fresh Mexican cheese with a texture. This salad goes really well with Mexican cuisine. And with Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, it is perfect for a theme menu.
"Our layered Greek salad has a fantastic presentation. First, arrange avocado on the bottom. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Arrange chopped tomatoes. Layer jicama on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle with more lemon. Then crumble feta cheese over the jicama and top with sliced black olives. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
"For our cabbage salad, we mix apples, celery, raisins, plain yogurt, apple juice, honey and cinnamon with shredded cabbage. It's healthful, refreshing and sweet.
"One of the many challenges we face as a vegetarian facility is with commercial dressings, like Caesar. A lot of the commercial Caesar dressings have anchovies. We had to invent an alternative Caesar-like dressing. We found that by mixing ranch and Italian dressing together, the resulting dressing performs just like traditional Caesar dressing, but it's got more zing and—more importantly—no meat.
Suzanne Du Verrier
5 A Day Nutrition Education Manager
Alisal Union School District
"As a means of getting students to eat more fruit, AUSD has recently begun using the salad bar for breakfast. Irene Vargars, the foodservice director, features a variety of fruits for the children to choose from on the bar. It's been very well received.
"The district is very proactive when it comes to nutrition education. There are two school gardens that are tended by the fourth and fifth grade students. The garden acts as an outdoor classroom. And students enjoy the activity involved. Some have even said they would rather be in the garden than playing a video game— 'It's more handson,' they say.
"The vegetables the students harvest are used in the salad bars. The buy-in is incredible—students develop a deep pride in the vegetables they've grown. They then share their knowledge with their friends and teachers as they eat these foods together in the cafè. This experience and the knowledge stays with them as they move to the sixth and seventh grade. We've watch these same students—as they enter high school—make better, more healthful choices at school and at home."
Timothy L. Bauman DHCFA, CDM, CFPP
Director of Food and Nutrition Services
Wood County Hospital
Bowling Green, OH
"We make a Caribbean Jerk Salad with mandarin oranges, almonds, raisins and a home made offshoot of honey mustard dressing together with chargrilled chicken and iceberg. Sometimes we blend gourmet greens—red and green romaine, red and green oak, lolla rossa, red butter tango, tahtsai, mizuna, arugula, radicchio, and red mustard—with the iceberg. Practical variations like this help to boost the nutritional profile while appealing to health-conscious customers.
"We make our own croutons and shred our own cheeses too. We use Asiago, blue, cheddar and provolone for about any salad. Feta is good for iceberg, chopped and spinach salads. We also like Gruyere, Romano and smoked Gouda. We like to put the smoked Gouda on chicken breasts for our entrèe salads."
Don Miller CEC, CCE, AAC
Notre Dame University
Notre Dame, IN
"I think the key to creating great salads— great dishes, even—is authenticity. I look to find recipes that are truly authentic. Then I experiment with different spin-offs until I find something that works for our customer base.
"We have a Sesame Thai Beef Salad that started as a recipe from Charmaine Solomon— who is considered an authority on authentic Asian cuisine. Our salad has all the elements of her original recipe, but with a number of variations that customize it for our purposes.
"We have a shrimp, crabmeat, and mango stuffed avocado salad. It has different colored bell peppers, mango, habañero chile, and an habañero dressing. We put the salad into an avocado half, and serve it on a chiffonade of lettuce with chilled caramelized pineapple. The salad has an excellent flavor profile—the cool soft avacado and crisp sweet iceberg with the spicy mango habñero dressing combined with the seafood flavors."