Being enthralled with all the debating over the current best teams in the NBA, NHL, and College Basketball, I felt it only right to do a Power Ranking’s of my own, this time of the leafy variety. For those being a bit confused as to how such a gastronome as myself might be found eating, neigh enjoying something as boring and health conscious as a salad have not heard the joyful melody of the Mac Salad Song or been privy to the debate over a Wedge Salad Three-way. Now for the definition of “salad” we are going with the broadest form of the word, pretty much anything that is commonly referred to as salad fits in this situation, those without lettuce still merit inclusion during such a time of culinary acceptance. Here are my top 10 salad Power Rankings:
10. Fruit Salad – It’s healthy, got that one out of the way. Plus Fruit Salad can be so many different options, ain’t nobody got time to listen to me drone on about nectarines and strawberries. Best Place to get Fruit Salad: Anywhere that has fresh fruit duh!
9. Caesar Salad – This classic Italian Salad is the perfect way to start off a meal. Some creamy dressing (with or without some anchovies) some crunchy croutons, shaved parmesan cheese, and preferably a spritz of fresh lemon juice make me feel like Jaime Foxx during the chorus of Slow Jamz (for those not in the know “it definitely sets this party off right). Best Place to get a Caesar Salad: Shock of the Century on this one Panera Bread (Locations all over) , seriously their Chicken Caesar is pretty damn incredible.
8. Egg Salad – When you spend the whole day boiling the eggs, getting together the mayonnaise, onion, and paprika you basically have all the accouterments of a world class salad right there. The added bonus of this salad is that if you want to eat it in a crowded environment it usually can provide a little added elbow room for you. No one ever said that delicious things smell wonderful (I’m looking at you dorian fruit). Best Place to get Egg Salad: I prefer to make my own, but if you must I would suggest your local deli.
7. Pasta Salad – Get me some tortellini drenched in italian dressing mixed with olives, tomatoes (sun-dried or regular), and chucks of salty salty provolone and I am one happy paisan. Ok I’m not Italian but if they keep making salads this way I may have to convert. actually knowing what I know of actual European Italians I am pretty sure this is an American creation and boy glad am I it is. Go ‘Merica! Best Place to get Pasta Salad: Merritt Jones (Utica, NY) it’s a person not a place so don’t go looking for her, hands down best pasta salad ever.
6. Caprese Salad- Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella, enough said……well enough said if they have good Mozzarella. Best Place to get a Caprese Salad: Trattoria Il Panino (North End, Boston, MA)
5. Potato Salad (Both German and Regular Styles) – Few summer backyard BBQ’s are complete without the sultan of spuds. Whether it be knockwurst with some warm German Potato Salad or good old wieners with some red bliss and dill, I think that Potato Salad just screams summer time fun. The added bonus is that since potatoes are such a blank canvas you can throw almost anything into the mixture and come out with something hopefully tasty. **An omission from my more portly days, I used to treat Potato Salad like a dip and scoop some hunks out on Potato Chips, the saltiness and crunch of the chips just made a spectacular combo with the creamy luscious Potato Salad. Best Place to get Potato Salad: Heidelberg Restaurant (Upper East Side, New York, NY) or Parish Cafe (Boston, MA)
4. Greek Salad- Nothing better than some lettuce drowned in some Greek Salad dressing with delicious land-mines of feta cheese and olives that peak those taste buds right up. Throw in some pita break to make a little salad sandwich and you are in business. Greek Salads make you reek of that Dinner/Pizza place on the corner but in a good smelly way. Best Place to get a Greek Salad: B & F’s House of Pizza (Waltham, MA)
3. Wedge Salad- The stalwart of the Steakhouse, the Wedge Salad is the true carnivores salad. You know what goes great with a nice hunk of healthy Iceberg lettuce? How about we smother it in Blue cheese and sprinkle on hunks of bacon. This once again proves one of the Ten Commandments of my life: bacon makes everything better. **Disclaimer don’t ever split a Wedge Salad, people will never let you live that moment down. Best Place to get a Wedge Salad: Paddy’s Pub or O’Hara’s Restaurant (Newton, MA)
2. Chicken Salad- I was first turned onto Chicken Salad in high school when I was enticed by a local sandwich stop that had a chicken salad sandwich consisting of chicken salad and bacon on focaccia. You put anything on focaccia and top it with bacon I’m-a-gonna-get it. After years of equating it with tuna fish or some other mild flavored flub that elders ate, I rediscovered my self in the terms of chicken,mayo, celery (and or onion), and just a pinch of celery salt. Years later I would come to find many great sandwich artisans that took my beloved Chicken Salad to new heights and for their valiant struggle I am forever grateful. Best Place to get Chicken Salad (or more importantly Chicken Salad Sandwich): Cutty’s (Brookline, MA) At Cutty’s it is not always on the menu but if you see it is the special of the day GET IT!!!! They put crunchy fried chicken skin back into the sandwich that is heavenly.
1. Mac Salad (better known as Macaroni Salad)- The Salad Champ in my books is hands down the Mac Salad. The shear fact that it is a staple of the Rochester NY institution known as the Garbage Plate wins the Mac Salad major bonus points in my book, but what really throws it over the top is its versatility. Next time you find your self with some excess elbow noodles and mayo, toss in some scallions, bell pepper, pepperoni, and even a bit of sharp cheddar cheese and there you have a King family institution from many moons ago. Best Place to Get Mac Salad: Any Garbage Plate hut in the Greater Rochester area or hit up Wilson’s Farm Cookbook (Lexington,MA) for a killer recipe.