Cool, Refreshing, Delicious!

Baja Shrimp Salad, Eric Wadlund, Spencer’s Restaurant

“Cool, Refreshing, Delicious!”

Three local chefs parlay local produce into creative summer salads

by Maryann Ridini Spencer

Vibrant colors. Tangy flavors. Crunchy textures. When temperatures sizzle, there’s nothing quite as delightful and refreshing as a summer salad.

“Summer salads have a light, fresh pop to them,” says Eric Wadlund, executive chef at Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs. “It starts with the crunch of green vegetables, such as lettuce, broccoli, and green beans. Then add color with corn, peppers, and tomatoes, plus the fruity goodness of oranges, pineapples, grapefruits, and other produce. These are the perfect ingredients for a delicious summer meal.”

“I like to capture the flavors fresh from the garden, then apply technique to enhance the produce while preserving its natural essence,” says Jimmy Schmidt, executive chef at Morgan’s in the desert at La Quinta Resort & Club.

“Summer salads make you feel lighter,” says Bernard Dervieux, executive chef and owner of Cuistot in Palm Desert. “When the weather turns warm, eating fresh and light is good for the body and the digestive process.”

“Tomatoes jump out in the summer,” Schmidt says. “I use them freshly picked and ripened. Refrigeration kills their nutritious profile and their taste. Once a tomato is refrigerated, it goes to sleep and never wakes up. So eating freshly picked produce is the best way to glean the optimum nutritional benefit, as well as preserve the flavor.”

All three chefs agree that summer salads prepared as a side dish for an entrée that includes a little protein, such as grilled fish or chicken, are filling alternatives to heavier meals. Other sources of protein that enhance a salad’s “crunch factor” are nuts and seeds, such as pecans, slivered almonds, and sunflower seeds.


Photos by Jon Edwards Photography


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