In the world of entree salads, the canvas is as vast as one’s imagination. Crafting the perfect salad means embracing themes that resonate with your taste buds. Select a theme and craft your culinary masterpiece or experience the perfection of an entree salad with The Bistro Salad, featured recipe below.
From the Mediterranean allure of a Greek salad, adorned with feta and olives, to a vibrant Asian fusion, marrying greens with mango and peanuts, or a robust Southwestern medley of black beans and roasted sweet potatoes, each theme invites a symphony of flavors. Essentials like proteins, onions, herbs, nuts, and cheeses form the backbone, while specialty ingredients lend character and surprise. The key? Creativity, exploration, and the art of turning leftovers into culinary triumphs. Remember, at the heart of it all lies the greens—the stage for your chosen ingredients to shine. So, embark on this gastronomic journey, sculpt your own signature salad, and savor every bite of your personalized masterpiece. Whether it’s a kitchen experiment or a cherished staple like the beloved Bistro Salad, entree salads promise a delightful fusion of flavors, textures, and endless possibilities.
Think back to some of the best salads that you have enjoyed while eating out. Pick a theme for your salad and think about components and combinations that you have seen on different menus and create your own version.
ESSENTIALS FOR AN ENTREE SALAD
- Protein: this can be grilled chicken, salmon, thinly sliced strips of beef, kidney beans, chickpeas, and other legumes. Tuna, eggs, and hummus are also great sources of protein. What do you have leftover in the fridge that can be used?
- Something from the onion family in moderation. This can be yellow or red onion, green onion, or shallots. Fresh raw onions, when cut in small pieces and used in moderation, provide a declaration of flavor that is hard to substitute.
- Select herbs and vegetables that will complement your theme. In this category don’t forget nutritional boosters like kale and other power greens.
- Nuts and/or cheeses for great flavor, crunch and additional nutrition.
- Specialty ingredients: these are things like pieces of fresh fruit, raisins, other dried fruits, olives, capers, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, croutons, tortilla chips, wonton strips, and quinoia are great additions to your salad.
PICK A THEME
Greek: This could start with heartier greens like spinach and romaine. Choose something from the onion family, typically red onions. Added vegetables might include cucumbers, tomatoes, red and green peppers (roasted or fresh), olives and golden raisins. Look for bits of leftovers that need to be used! Include a cheese, generally feta or goat cheese. Want to include a nut? Then use pine nuts or pistachios.
Asian: Most any green fits well in this category and if tossed with some freshly chopped cilantro, you will be very happy! Green onions or shallots are most commonly used in here, but if you only have yellow or red, use what is on hand. Added vegetables like red peppers, carrots, celery, daikon, and snow peas. Perhaps a bit of pineapple and mango. Usually no cheese but chopped peanuts or almonds are a great final topper.
Southwestern: Hearty greens mixed with cilantro! Any onion will do nicely. Added vegetables and ingredients might include black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, red and green peppers, radishes, jicama, mangoes, black olives, and roasted sweet potatoes. Cotija is great, authentic cheese for this theme; and if you want something nutty, top with roasted pumpkin seeds.
Other great ingredients for general themes: Entree salads are a great place for roasted vegetables. This can be roasted peppers, roasted beets and squashes, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, raw or cooked asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, etc. Remember the core of the salad is the greens so you just want the ingredients to be highlights. Once again your taste and preferences will drive those decisions. Be on the lookout for leftovers!
The Bistro Salad was the staple house salad on the menu at Doughty’s Bistro. Simply stated, it starts with a bed of fresh greens, red onion, crumbles of feta cheese, and spiced pecans tossed with basil vinaigrette. This easily becomes an entree salad with the addition of grilled chicken breast and sliced avocado.
The Bistro Salad
2 cups chopped leafy greens
Red onions, very thin slices to taste
2 tablespoons spiced pecans (recipe below)
2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces grilled chicken breast, sliced
Basil Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe below)
Optional: sliced avocado or thinly sliced apples
Plate the leafy greens then drizzle with the Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below). At the restaurant the basil dressing was made with dried basil, however the fresh is even more colorful and fragrant. Garnish with red onions, pecans, and feta cheese. For an entree salad, top with sliced grilled chicken breast. Thinly sliced apples or slices of avocado are also a great addition to this salad.
½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons dried basil (or about 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients in a blender and whir for about one minute or until everything is well emulsified.
4 ounces butter
1 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco
5 cups walnuts or pecans, either in halves or larger pieces
In saute pan melt butter over medium heat. Add seasonings and stir well. Add pecans and cook for a few minutes in the pan, stirring often. Transfer nut mixture to cookie sheet, spread out and roast in 350 degree oven until edges start to brown. Let cool completely and then store in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.
Hungry for more? Check out Chef doughty’s book; The Chef Within Dinner Edition. Find more information and order your copy online here:
Meet Chef Doughty
We know her as part owner of Silvercreek Realty Group and the smiling face behind the brokerage accounting department, but did you know that Joyce Doughty has an affinity for culinary arts?
Chef Doughty is a successful food writer and restaurateur who hosted the nationally syndicated daily Public Radio food program “Food for Thought” for 17 years and was also host of the local ABC affiliate morning program “In the Kitchen” highlighting practical recipes and techniques for the kitchen. Recipient of the James Beard Foundation Top Three Chefs in Idaho Award and owner and chef of Idaho’s critically acclaimed Doughty’s Bistro. Chef Doughty was trained at Le Cordon Bleu and received her executive chef certification from the American Culinary Foundation.