bowl provides bountiful fresh produce
throughout the year. “We have three
farmers markets, including a supermarket-sized one, within driving distance.”
On Saturdays, he visits them to stock up
on tricolored beets, Brussels sprouts, fava
beans, English peas and other veggies
to prepare the salads for Sunday brunch
at Meritage at the Claremont, the hotel’s
signature restaurant. A Tuscan-style
antipasto with roasted vegetables is a
brunch mainstay, as are assorted fresh
locally grown salads. Ingredients can
include parsley root and cabbages, squash
blossoms, sunchokes and ramps.
Green beans pair with feta cheese in this salad at Annette Marcus Catering.
Brussels sprouts are a popular salad
ingredient. Thomsen sometimes combines
them with cannellini beans and salmon in
a red wine dressing. At the hotel’s Paragon
Restaurant & Bar, where chef de cuisine
Charles Crossley runs the kitchen, warm
Brussels sprouts salad with tasso ham,
vinaigrette, egg, croutons and candied
bacon is on the menu.
Whatley menus a bean salad made with
chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, corn,
roasted red peppers and herb vinaigrette.
“Customers dig right into it,” he says. Roasted
root vegetables find their way into salads,
and asparagus grilled or roasted al dente
and topped with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette is
another popular offering. “Green beans make
good salad ingredients, and in the summer, I
like to use grilled squashes,” Whatley says.
Another popular vegetable salad is the
Chinatown chop chop offered at lunch. It’s
a hearty salad made with napa cabbage,
carrots and daikons, lo mein noodles and
sesame seeds, and dressed with a very light
vinaigrette made with soy sauce, ginger
and cilantro. “It’s often ordered with roasted
chicken on it, but it’s best with the barbecued
shrimp we created for it,” Banas says.
Antipasto platters filled with vegetables
are found on brunch menus and assorted
legumes make their way into salad
offerings at lunch at the Ahwahnee
Dining Room and other properties where
DNC handles the foodservice operation.
At Yosemite’s Tenaya Lodge, for example,
the menu in the restaurant and for room
service includes a chopped salad of
chipotle BBQ chicken over iceberg and
romaine lettuces with fresh basil, black
beans, cilantro, sweet corn, tomato,
roasted pepper, Jack cheese, green
onion and crispy tortilla chips, tossed in a
creamy ranch dressing.
UP ON THE ROOF
While Thomsen and Whatley have the
bounty of the West at their fingertips, Myk
Banas, executive chef at the Chicago
Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, has
a rooftop garden where he can harvest
herbs for vinaigrettes and sometimes
beets for the roasted beet salad offered as
a starter at Harvest, the hotel’s restaurant.
Harvest’s winter chop chop salad, offered as
a dinner entrée, came off the menu in mid-March. “It was a delicious, big, healthy salad
with a couple of greens, rice, barley and a
couple of kinds of beans. But it just wasn’t that
popular. Strip steak and hand-cut fries outsold
it 10 to one,” Banas says, noting that he might
put it back on the menu as a smaller side salad.
“It’s a very simple salad,” Banas says.
The beets are roasted in foil, peeled and
cut into 3/8-inch coins. While hot, they’re
spread out in a pan with an herb/garlic
vinaigrette, and refrigerated overnight. “At
serving time, we plate them with a little
goat cheese, and dress with lemon juice,
olive oil, salt and pepper. Then we drizzle
a little of the soaking vinaigrette, which is
now a nice scarlet color, on the plate.”
“Healthy eating won’t go away,” says
Ventura’s Fiorentino. Bulman adds that the
future for salads is good, and will be about
great taste and wellness.
The National Culinary Review | May 2011
“The key to turning fresh vegetables into
attractive salads is to keep it simple,”
Thomsen advises. “Mother Nature wrote
the recipe. Don’t screw it up.”
Suzanne Hall has been writing about chefs,
restaurants, food and wine from her home in
Soddy Daisy, Tenn., for more than 25 years.