Favorite Salad Toppings: Lessons From Restaurant Salad Bars
A couple of the restaurants that frequent recently added some terrific new selections to their salad bars. The days of basic lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese salads topped with croutons are a thing of the past in most restaurants ... unless that's actually what you want.
For years, the only type of lettuce on most salad bars was iceberg lettuce. Over the last several years, most restaurants have started adding romaine lettuce. Recently, many restaurants have added fresh spring mix and baby spinach to their offerings.
Most restaurants with salad bars have always had mild shredded cheddar cheese available. Lately, I've noticed more cheese selections on salad bars, including shredded Swiss, crumbled bleu cheese, grated parmesan, and cubes of jalapeno jack and Colby. Of course, cottage cheese is usually included as well.
No salad from a salad bar is complete without a variety of fresh veggies to top the basic lettuce. Popular veggie salad toppings include:
- Artichoke Hearts
- Baby Corn
- Bell Pepper
- Black Olives
- Green Olives
- Shredded Carrots
- Tomato (wedges, grape, or cherry)
Side Dish Selections
Many salad bars include a variety of prepared salads from which diners can choose. Many salad bars offering pasta salads, potato salad, coleslaw, three-bean salad, corn salad, and many other dishes that could stand alone as side dishes.
Most salad bars also include a selection of fruits. Fresh grapes and strawberries are among the most common fresh fruits. Many salad bars also feature chunks of different types of melons, typically watermelon, cantaloupe, and honey dew melon. It's also fairly common to find canned fruits such as mandarin oranges, peaches, and pears on large salad bar displays.
A Little Something Extra (Lagniappe)
Sunflower seeds have long been available on most salad bars, as a way of providing a little extra crunch, protein, and flavor. Lately, I've observed that topping selections have expanded to include peanuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries.
What's Your Favorite?
Did I leave off your favorite salad bar topping? Feel free to post your favorite items in the comments section below.