Taste a winner: Dana's Salad 2010-06-14
Posted Date June 2010
When she was working as a bicycle tour guide in Paris last summer, she spoke just enough French to order the salade Niçoise at the little café around the corner from her office.
The 23-year-old likes salads because they’re light and crispy, and she loads hers up with fresh vegetables so they’re healthy as well.
So last winter, when Dana — back home in Middletown and working as a nanny — saw an announcement online for the “Create Your Own Powerhouse Salad” contest sponsored by the restaurant chain Saladworks, she knew she had to enter.
“I just went for it,” she says.
A couple of months later, she found out that she’d won.
And this month, “Dana’s Salad” is on the menu at more than 100 Saladworks restaurants from Massachusetts to Florida.
The premise of the contest was to create a salad from the ingredients available in Saladworks’ display case, including at least three choices from the restaurant’s new “powerhouse” menu.
Dana’s recipe for a cool summer salad included iceberg and romaine lettuces, artichokes, mozzarella cheese, olives and tomatoes, tossed with radiatore pasta and topped with shrimp.
That combination sounded great to Saladworks founder and CEO John Scardapane and the rest of the judges, too. They loved the Mediterranean-style combination of artichokes, olives and tomatoes in Dana’s salad, both for their flavors and for the good fats and nutrients they contain.
Saladworks, which opened its first restaurant at the Cherry Hill Mall in 1986 and now has more than 100 franchises in 11 states, recently modified its signature salads and dressings so they’re lower in fat and calories. Customers who prefer to create their own salads can choose from an expanded selection of nutrient-packed ingredients, including avocados, edamame and chickpeas.
This new True Nutrition menu was one reason Scardapane decided to sponsor the contest. But he also wanted to reward the chain’s regular customers, who routinely bypass the signature salads in favor of their own combinations.
Sometimes, they’re so proud of their creations that they’ll christen them with their own names.
“People say, ‘Give me Bob’s salad,’ ” Scardapane says.
The contest drew several thousand entries, which Scardapane, a former chef who created the restaurant’s signature salads, narrowed down to 100. The company’s research and development team winnowed the list down to 25, and a tasting was then held to choose the top three.
Dana’s Salad is the first of the winners to debut on the Saladworks menu.
“Lorrie’s Salad,” made with spring mix, almonds, avocado, feta cheese, turkey and pita chips, will follow in July, and “Joan’s Salad,” with spring mix, artichokes, avocados, mushrooms, fresh salmon and rice crisps, arrives in September.
For her win, Dana received a $500 Saladworks gift card. That would usually keep her in salad for many months — if she weren’t heading out to Utah this week to train as a guide with a U.S.-based bicycle tour company.
She’s not sure where she’ll end up living after the training’s done, but it’ll likely be California, which doesn’t have any Saladworks now (though eight restaurants are scheduled to open in the state in the next few years).
So Dana split up her gift card and shared her winnings with family and friends. And her sister insisted on going out to their local Saladworks to see the promotional poster with Dana’s photo on it, snapped next to a farm field.
“She made me take my picture with my picture,” Dana says laughing.
Dana's Salad will be available at Saladworks through June 28. To find your local Saladworks, go to http://www.saladworks.com..