The “artfully chopped salads” that Crushed Red, a salad and pizza fast casual, touts on its menu read like a list of the top trending flavor profiles. One particularly flavor-forward example is This Pear is on Fire, a salad where each ingredient brings a distinct element to the dish. “We started with pears, which are very refreshing, and we decided to dust them with a chile pepper powder. There are five different chiles blended in the dust. It’s intended to be ‘heat and sweet,’ which are forward flavors that are currently in demand,” says Founder/CEO Chris LaRocca.
Candied walnuts and dried cranberries add sweetness, goat cheese brings creaminess and tang, while bacon lends a smoky-salty crunch. And because the bacon is not a focal point, LaRocca calls this a non-protein salad.
The salad started as a six-week limited-time offer, but as soon as the item was taken off the menu, demands to bring it back flooded Crushed Red’s social media. It’s been a fixture for two years since. Even though This Pear is on Fire features trending flavors, LaRocca sees it outlasting the trends. “This is not a flavor of the month. There’s a lot of mileage that goes along with the heat and sweet—it’s timeless.”