Green Salads -- serving temperature
German potato salad served warm. Pasta salads chilled. OK>
But what about a traditional tossed salad of greens and veggies?
I've always preferred room temperature, because the greens taste more full flavored.. But a close friend demands chilled. When I encounter a chilled salad in a restaurant I always suspect it was prepped a day or two in advance.
First thought is, salad serving temperature for consumption for the diner is a personal preference.....I tend to like my salads to be cool, not cold, but when I dine at a Japanese restaurant, I am always amazed how they can serve it so cold and crisp, unlike at any other restaurant. From the restaurants position, it depends on more than a few important points......1. The menu, i.e. the ingredients for a particular salad....2. The design of the kitchen,i.e., whether there is a salad pantry area....3. Labor, i.e., is the salad being made by the kitchen or by the servers.....4. equipment, i.e., are they pre-made servings by specification, e.g., one tomato wedge, two cukes, red onion rings, cheese topping and etc on a chilled plate stored in a reach in refrigerator on shelves.....or does it require to be scooped from a dedicated Salad Crisper just before serving: http://www0.shopping.com/Salad-System...
For me, I almost always eat the salad after my main entree eaten, but it is always served to me at the generally accepted time before the entree arrives ( app, soup then salad), so I would prefer it to be served cold and I allow it to warm closer to room temperature, but still cool.....sort of the way ice cream is served cold, and I allow it to warm up as well. the warmer temperature, as previously noted for both vegetables and ice cream above, allows your taste buds to fully appreciate the items eaten.
Last, I believe the temperature has to do with what is exactly beings served in the specific salad.....Iceberg and Romaine should be cold so they can be crisp.....Bibb, Arugula and Mesculin are more delicate and are not crisp greens, so it is not necessary to serve them cold to maintain their natural properties. Salad greens are prepared in batches....most restaurants will not make a new batch until the the previous one is soon finished off. a good restaurant will serve salads that are from the previous day, or once the lettuce turns browns...in the old days, salad greens were soaked and spun dry, but with today's advancement in processing, you can purchase the greens hydroponically grown or Pre-Washed and packaged for convenience.....using lettuce days old now is not unusual.
I really think this one of those things that's totally personally preference. I like green salads, or salads that have a green base (I love a lunch salad of greens, topped with whatever veg is in the fridge) chilled. All of my ingredients, with the exception of tomatoes, are in the fridge, so I don't think cold necessarily means prep ahead. Although I'm not above making a salad in the late morning while puttering in the kitchen on a weekend and then letting in hang out for a couple of hours until lunch.
I prefer a green salad (leafy greens) chilled. In the restaurant world, a chilled salad doesn't mean it was prepped days in advance. Salad prep is very often done right before service and the greens kept refrigerated. Chill the plates too. Cold and crisp, that's a good salad.
Now, mixed vegetable salads, without greens, are fine cool or just slightly chilled; too cold and you're right, the flavors can be subdued or lost altogether. Same goes for seafood salads, crab, shrimp, lobster, all benefit from a little less refrigerator chill, and I think pasta salads don't need to be totally chilly either.
Cold food should be checked for seasoning right before serving, and might need to be adjusted.