“People are looking for something cold and crisp that’ll cool their body down rather than a bowl of chili,” said Archer Bailey, owner of Robbie’s restaurant, 4 South Old Capitol Plaza. “So we are selling tons of salads, and we have quite a variety of salads.”


With recipes.

With late-summer heat in full swing, Springfield restaurants are in their salad days.

“People are looking for something cold and crisp that’ll cool their body down rather than a bowl of chili,” said Archer Bailey, owner of Robbie’s restaurant, 4 South Old Capitol Plaza. “So we are selling tons of salads, and we have quite a variety of salads.”

“It’s refreshing on a hot day,” said Kim Knaus, a visitor from Winnetka, as she stuck a fork in a southwestern salad at Robbie’s on a recent afternoon as temperatures sailed into the upper 90s.

“In the summer, you’re outside and salads are not as heavy, so it’s good to have in the afternoon,” said Norm Sims of Springfield, who was munching on a chef’s salad a couple of tables away from Knaus. “It just feels like a salad day.”

Springfield chefs have answered the demand by offering a wide variety of cool, creative salads.

At Garden of Eatin’, 115 N. Sixth St., the Forbidden Fruit Salad quickly has become a dining favorite, said owner Habib Hosseinali.

The salad consists of a bed of spring-mix greens topped with apples — thus the salad’s name — and walnuts, other fresh fruits, and chicken on request. It’s served with a raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette dressing.

Hosseinali said he uses different combinations of fruit in the salad every day — including cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, pineapples, and fresh cranberries — so his regular customers “don’t get bored.”

At Robbie’s, Bailey said he was surprised at the popularity of his Scarsdale Salad, made of spinach leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms, hard-cooked eggs and meat, with a raspberry-almond vinaigrette dressing.

“I don’t know if it’s that people like the spinach in the hot weather or what,” he said.

Summer also is the season for many fresh fruits and vegetables, an opportunity many area chefs take advantage of when preparing salads.

“We buy a lot of things at the farmers market that you have to buy at the (super)market in the wintertime,” said Kate Hawkes, owner of Trout Lily Cafe, 218 S. Sixth St. “Tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers — one year someone brought us a bag of trout lily leaves. We put them in the salad. They were delicious. They had a light citrus flavor.”

For the past six summers, Maldaner’s Restaurant, 222 S. Sixth St., has offered an heirloom-tomato plate, made of fresh tomato slices served with baby greens and aioli, a garlic mayonnaise.

“That sells very, very well for us,” said owner Michael Higgins. “People look forward to that every year.”

Salad dressings can be as refreshing and enticing as the salads themselves.

At Café Moxo, 411 E. Adams St., the Far East salad — mixed baby greens, mandarin oranges, water chestnuts and red onions — is drizzled with a sweet-and-sour sesame dressing.

Owner Mark Forinash said the dressing, which he makes using peanut oil, sesame seeds, apple cider, garlic and other ingredients, is a big reason why the Far East salad is by far Café Moxo’s best-selling salad.

“People just like it, they just really like it,” Forinash said. “I don’t want to pick on the mass-produced dressings, like Kraft ranch, but let’s pick on them. They tend to weigh down your salads in that they basically beat up your greens to where the salad’s bruised.

“But the way that the field greens mix with that (sesame) dressing, it’s doesn’t get soggy. It just pops out there,” he said.

Many customers, however, still choose ranch and other thick dressings more suited to winter cuisine over lighter summer vinaigrettes.

The Greek salad at Augie’s Front Burner, 109 S. Fifth St., is a medley of cubed tomatoes, feta cheese, black olives and romaine lettuce. It’s usually topped with a combination of golden Italian dressing and basil pesto, said Mike Morgan, the restaurant’s pantry chef.

“But a lot of people choose ranch (dressing),” Morgan said. “I would think the ranch would throw that (salad taste) off, because it’s a Greek theme.”

And despite the heat, other diners eschew salads altogether in favor of hot soup.

“It’s kind of surprising, actually, that people eat so much soup even in the summertime,” said Stephane Perrin, a chef at Sebastian’s Hideout, 221 S. Fifth St.

But soup didn’t interest Season Young of Springfield, who recently ordered a BLT salad for lunch at Sebastian’s.

“I don’t eat salads because they’re healthy. I eat salads because I enjoy the flavor,” Young said. “It’s a plus that they’re healthy.”


SCARSDALE SALAD

From Archer Bailey, owner of Robbie’s restaurant

Salad:

Fresh spinach leaves

Tomato wedges

Fresh button mushrooms, sliced

Hard-cooked eggs, sliced

Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, grated

Roast beef, sliced

Turkey breast, sliced

Raspberry-Almond Vinaigrette:

17 ounces raspberry-flavored red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon tarragon, either dried or fresh

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 tablespoon raspberry jam

3 cups soybean or vegetable oil

Mix together salad ingredients. Toss together dressing ingredients. Add dressing to salad. Makes 5 1/2 cups dressing, enough for 20-24 salads. Nutritional analysis varies, depending on size of salad.


MIXED BABY GREENS WITH ORANGE POPPY SEED DRESSING

From Chef Stephane Perrin, Sebastian’s Hideout

Salad:

Mixed baby greens

Mandarin orange sections

Blue-cheese crumbles

Candied walnuts

Orange Poppy Seed Dressing:

¼ cup orange juice concentrate

¾ cup rice wine vinegar

3 cups vegetable oil

¼ cup minced shallots

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Mix together salad ingredients. Combine all dressing ingredients in blender, except poppy seeds. Pour into bowl; whisk in poppy seeds. Add dressing to salad. Makes 4 1/4 cups dressing, enough for 16-18 salads. Nutritional analysis varies, depending on size of salad.

State Journal-Register