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Spring Into Cooked Salads

Industry Trends, Technology, Serving Solutions

According to a study conducted by OnePoll, 62% of Americans said that salad is part of their regular diet and the average American eats four salads per week.1 While Caesar, green goddess, and kale-based salads remain popular choices, consumers are warming up their palates to salads beyond cold leafy green varieties and looking to foodfluencers for inspiration. Cooked and “warmed-through” salads have shaken up social media and foodie blog pages this winter and are a trend expected to last well into 2023.

Warm salads can easily be implemented onto menus and be just as simple to craft as cold ones. Leverage this growing trend and make your operation a destination for foodies of all ages by using ingredients you already have on hand. Start with a base (greens, pasta, grains), add cooked veggies and/or protein, finish with dressings and toppings, and voilà you’ve added a satisfying warm salad option for patrons to enjoy away from home and to take on the go.

Here are a few salad ideas to inspire creativity and essential equipment that will help improve back-of-house efficiency, speed assembly, and bring consistency to your cooked salad recipes.

  • Toasted Greens & Quinoa Salad features baked, crispy kale and cabbage and cooked, crunchy quinoa. Top with pickled red onion slices and toasted pine nuts to finish the dish. Serve with a side of warmed, house-made honey, vinegar, and rosemary dressing.
  • Roasted Squash & Cauliflower Salad is easy to prepare and offers an abundance of filling flavor to keep guests energized until their next meal or snack. Roast vegetables until tender and golden brown with oil olive and spices such as paprika and cumin. Toss with chickpeas, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with a tahini dressing made from tahini, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and garlic.
  • Chicken & Pickled Watermelon Salad served over warm rice or pasta will elevate your salad offerings. Pickled watermelon can be made in bulk, days in advance, to speed up prep time on orders. Use ingredients like caster sugar, vinegar, chopped red chili, ginger, fennel seeds, and anise for a flavorful pickled base. Layer ingredients starting with the rice or pasta base, grilled chicken strips, and pickled watermelon chunks. This salad is packed with robust flavor and can be served as-is or alongside a light, fresh dressing.

The possibilities are endless, so be inventive with the ingredients you purchase regularly. Use any roasted or sautéed vegetable or fruit, grilled or smoked meat or seafood, toasted toppings, and your own signature house-made dressings. Or use seasonal ingredients for crafting your own LTO salad menu.

Looking to increase prep time, save labor and keep ingredients on hand and ready to add to your cooked salad recipes? Server Essentials’ line of dispensing, holding, and serving equipment delivers unmatched efficiency and menu flexibility to your operation.

  • Stainless Steel Fountain Jar Pumps take the guesswork out of serving and help you manage food costs. Each portion-control pump provides precise portions of prepared thin to especially thick dressings and sauces, saving time and virtually eliminating waste. Simply dispense the perfect amount of dressing to top your signature cooked salads or quickly fill ramekins for to-go orders. Looking to optimize counterspace? Check out our Slim Fountain Jar Pumps and stations which allow for holding and serving more dressing flavors in the same amount of space while bringing flexibility to your salad recipes.
  • Cold Stations speed preparation by keeping chopped toppings fresh and ready to grab for toasting applications or topping warm salads. Use these chilled units to hold pickled ingredients, grilled chicken strips, sliced hard boiled eggs, chopped veggies, and more. The insulated shroud prevents condensation from forming and the clear, hinged lid showcases prepped ingredients for quick identification while ensuring ingredient levels are easily maintained.  
  • Squeeze Bottle Holders and Stations organize dressings and finishing sauces while keeping them cold or warm for immediate use. Craft house-made dressings for your signature cooked salads and easily add variety of a LTO offerings. Bottle holders and cold stations are available in (2) 16-oz. units up to (8) 16-oz. options and feature a stainless steel open-frame design which allows air to circulate below and keeps air from escaping above. To keep dressings warm and handy, use the Squeeze Bottle Holder. Ideal for low-temperature warming of sauces and dressings, this setup fits inside a 1/6-size food pan and efficiently works in tandem with our IntelliServ® Warmers.


For additional culinary inspiration, read our blogs Sauce and Dressing Trends in 2023 and Big Menu Items Boost Breakfast Dining.


1 What Does the Ultimate Salad Look Like, Fresh News,