What are the favourite entree salads?

April 20 2015

Salads come in all shapes and sizes. From the almost garnish-like salad that's served up next to an entree - a couple of lettuce leaves, a tomato wedge and a drizzle of olive oil, maybe - to something far more elaborate: the entree salad.

While each type of salad has its place on a menu, it's the entree salads that seem to be having a bit of a heyday at the moment, according to Restaurant Central.

They report that Technomic's MenuMonitor data shows there are currently 320 menu listings of specialty entree salads - and each one demonstrates chefs' creativity and the wealth of flavours and combinations available when it comes to salad.

Some of the most popular ingredients used in these specialty entree salads include tomatoes, vinaigrette dressing, chicken, cucumbers and goats' cheese.

The data also shows that chicken salad is another leading type of entree salad. This category includes both green salads topped with chicken, as well as mayonnaise or salad-dressing based salads.

Chicken is a popular choice for salads due to its being a versatile ingredient. It can be fried, grilled, breaded or blackened. It can be spiced in a variety of ways to provide flavours like Cajun, Chinese or Mexican and it pairs well with spicy flavours like buffalo sauce and jalepenos. Chicken is also the perfect accompaniment to salad, as health-conscious consumers will see it as a more healthy choice.

Entree salads inspired by ethnic cuisine are also growing in popularity, thanks to restaurant operators becoming more willing to experiment with flavour combinations. Asian and Greek salads are particularly popular, the former including ingredients like chicken, greens, tomatoes, shrimp and noodles. Feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and red onions are ideal for including in Greek salads.

Looking for inspiration for an entree salad of your own?  Here are a few ideas to help you come up with your own combination of flavours:

  • At Earl's Kitchen + Bar, they serve a Santa Fe Chicken Salad. It's topped with Cajun-spiced chicken, feta, avocado, black beans, dates, crispy tortilla pieces and a peanut-lime vinaigrette.
  • Applebees offers The Crunchy Thai Shrimp Salad. It features crispy greens and cilantro tossed in a Thai vinaigrette, mixed with fresh cucumber, roasted red peppers, red onions, tomatoes and crunchy rice noodles. It's topped with toasted almonds and Chipotle Lime seasoned shrimp.
  • Montana's cookhouse offers an Apple Pecan Salad. It includes goats' cheese, red pepper strips, spicy glazed pecans, fresh apple and dried cranberries, all served on a bed of mixed greens and topped with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Customers can also add shrimp skewers for a more filling entree salad.
  • At Moxie's, they offer a Kale and Quinoa Salad with Lemon vinaigrette. It includes poached chicken breast, toasted sunflower seeds, dried currants and grana padano cheese.
  • Nando's offers a Mediterranean salad, which features crispy romaine, spring greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and Kalamata olives, all topped with feta cheese and sun-dried tomato dressing. Customers can also add their choice of Peri Peri chicken, with options ranging from Plain-ish or Lemon and Herb, all the way up to Exra Hot.