Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Modern Salad Garnishes In on-trend salads today, textural treatments allow chefs to add a layer of complexity that drives consumer excitement and a sense of adventure

This Gorgonzola Steak Salad gets an unexpected but welcome garnish of crispy fried onions
PHOTO CREDIT: French’s Foodservice

Today, on-trend salads are showcasing intentional builds that create a satisfying and creative textural and flavor experience. Taking cues from the success of the bowls category, modern salads are flavor-forward and craveable.

The Twisted Cobb at Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Austin, Texas, is a prime example, boasting grilled achiote chicken, roasted corn, grape tomatoes, Cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds, ranch vinaigrette and housemade corn nuts. The inclusion of corn nuts signals an important shift in salad development, where high-impact garnishes and finishes make a big impression.

At The Palm Restaurant, a heritage steakhouse brand based in Washington, D.C., the Iceberg Lettuce Wedge is finished with toasted walnuts and fried onions.

The When in Romaine Salad by José Andrés at Beefsteak, with five locations in the Mid-Atlantic, is garnished with a cucumber salad, seaweed salad and toasted seaweed.

Meanwhile, the house Wedge at Maple & Ash in Chicago sees a crisp iceberg wedge topped with spicy onion rings and glazed bacon.

“Textural treatments are a way of working with familiar ingredients, adding a layer of complexity that drives consumer excitement and a sense of adventure,” says Charlie Baggs, president/executive chef of Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovation. “Texture is a way to add culinary expertise to a dish, and bringing another layer of flavor with minimal cost and big visual impact.”

10 High-Impact Salad Garnishes

  • Pan-fried farro
  • Frizzled onions
  • Chorizo crumbles
  • Crispy pork
  • Pickled grapes
  • Battered jalapeño slices
  • Crispy potato straws
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Frico (fried cheese) crisps
  • Charred cauliflower

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About The Author

Jillian Werb

Digital Editor for Flavor & the Menu magazine. Based in Portland, Maine, and surrounded by good food.