July 2003 Edition
Salad at the Centre of the Plate

When it comes to creating enticing Centre of the Plate entrées, salad may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but now more than ever it should be! More substantial salad meals are in demand as health conscious consumers choose crisp greens and seasonal fruits and vegetables found in fresh appealing summer salads.

There are several factors that have given rise to the entrée salad as a Centre of the Plate menu item including a trend towards healthy eating along with the crumbling myth that salad is just for starters or just for dieters. Salad is here to stay, and when it comes to salads there really is something for everybody.

To satisfy your customer's desire to eat healthy foods, create an entrée salad that lets them have their salad - and eat it too! Long gone are the days when customers could expect no more than torn pieces of iceberg lettuce and Thousand Islands dressing as their only salad choice. Today a well built salad can easily hold its position as a Centre of the Plate menu item and the variety of salad ingredients available makes the entrée salad an appealing option for a broad base of diners. In fact the salad bar and the built salad are both favoured by customers who enjoy experimenting with salad ingredients and dressings.

When prepared as an entrée, salads are anything but an ordinary starter. They may include a number of greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, cheese, or meat and with so many varieties of flavoured dressings available the salad can be reinvented in limitless combinations allowing you to prepare many pleasing salad choices. In fact it is this broader definition of what a salad is that has allowed it to be taken seriously as a centre of the plate dining option.

The entrée salad may be offered meatless or with a variety of protein options. The most popular and easily adaptable meat is grilled chicken, however beef, lamb, and pork, tossed into an entrée salad offer super savoury and sophisticated choices.

As these more substantial salad meals are often driven by health conscious diners as well as those diners who are semi-meatless (those who eat two or three meals a week without meat) provide a meatless version of your salads to maximize reach with this target audience.

Seafood also helps to turn simple salads into exotic entrées. The sumptuous shrimp is a familiar salad star in menu items such as Shrimp Caesar, but is endlessly versatile when imagination is the main ingredient. For example, pair Sysco Imperial Shrimp in a salad with couscous, tangerines and almonds tossed in a spicy yogurt dressing. Scallops are another stunning salad ingredient when sprinkled with curry powder, seared in hot oil and placed atop a mix of green beans and Belgian endive dressed with vinaigrette and truffle oil. Or, make a simple smoked salmon salad by mixing baby greens with red onion and cherry tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinaigrette and drizzled with capers.

Using upscale ingredients can also give salad its star power, and exotic or unexpected ingredients can also position your entrée salad as particularly memorable. Almost all salads are topped with dressing, and while familiar standbys such as Caesar and Italian remain longtime favourites, exotic dressings are becoming the norm on many menus.

And there is a lot to be said for dressings. Dressings can balance the flavours of the salad ingredients or may infuse the ingredients to give added dimension to the overall flavour of the salad. However, the trend towards more exotic dressings and ethnic flavours is a reflection of the customer's increasingly sophisticated palate and their desire to try something new and unusual.

Combine exotic fresh ingredients into pleasing combinations to make a salad that looks good, tastes good and one that offers something that the customer just doesn’t get at home, and your entrée salad will be well positioned for success.¨

Dressing to Impress

Incorporating menu ideas that will leave a positive lasting impression on your guests is a challenge you face every day in the foodservice business. However, finding top-quality ingredients that will enhance your new offerings is easy with Sysco's extensive line of salad dressings. Whether you desire a zesty flavour for your salad, a unique complement to your fruit plate or just the right dip for your appetizer, salad dressings from Sysco solve your need for distinctive additions that make their mark.

Sysco's taste filled salad dressings are made with the highest-quality ingredients available, giving you great applications that measure up - every time. For instance, Sysco's Bleu Cheese Dressing gives you a fabulous way to turn an ordinary hamburger into a savoury signature hamburger. Or, if adding extra pop to your Thai based pasta dishes is what you're looking for, blend Sysco Toasted Sesame Dressing into your dish.

An exotic blend of Chardonnay wine, lemon, mango, garlic, bits of red bell pepper and a dash of chili pepper make Sysco Caribbean Vinaigrette Dressing perfect for grilled seafood and chicken dishes. Sysco Ranch Dressing will turn red potatoes into a scrumptious side dish, and Caesar salad is kicked up a notch with Sysco Caesar Dressing and a few fried oysters. Finally, turn your house salad into something special with Sysco Honey Raspberry Vinaigrette, ripe Sysco Naturalâ cherry tomatoes and thick Sysco Natural cucumber wedges.

Made for a variety of uses, Sysco's flavourful family of salad dressings provides operators endless opportunities to create diner-friendly dishes. So for anything-but-standard staples that will satisfy your bottom line as much as they satisfy your hungry crowd, turn to Sysco's unparalleled line of salad dressings. Whether you're choosing a best-selling favourite such as Sysco Traditional Italian Dressing or using the unique flavour of wasabi-flavour-infused Sysco Imperial Cusabi Dressing, Sysco's dedication to culinary excellence will have your customer's pouring on the praise.

Alaska Surimi Seafood Tortellini Salad

Alaskan Seafood Council

Serves: 24

Ingredients:

Arrezzio Dried Cheese Tortellini 1.5 L 6 cups

Sysco Classic Surimi Seafood Chunks or shreds 1.2 L 5 cups

Granny Smith apples, diced 1 L 4 cups

Sysco Bleu Cheese Dressing 500 mL 2 cups

Low-fat sour cream 500 mL 2 cups

Green onions, diced 250 mL 1 cup

Method:

Prepare Tortellini according to product directions. Flake Surimi into large bowl; mix in apples, green onions, dressing and sour cream.

Cover and refrigerate at least three hours. Serve approximately 2 cups (500 mL) salad per serving.