OUR PICKS: THREE SENSATIONAL SALADS FOR SPRING

In the rest of the U.S., they have some inkling when Summer might arrive — they must first traverse Spring. But in the Keys, summer can arrive at any time provided it’s sunny and better than 75º whether that’s in November or May.

That’s why we do salads so well in the Florida Keys. It’s a year round food, never toppled by the likes of lethargic beef-carrot-and-potato oven roasts. 

Why do we like salads? Let us count the ways: they are endlessly versatile, because they help us beat the bulge, hello fiber and, finally, because they are served cold or air temperature and it gets VERY hot in the Keys. 

In this issue of Table, we got up close and personal with three salads and their “owners.” Dig in.

Antipasto Salad
Driftwood Pizza,
Tony Piscetello

One of the best surprises in store for Driftwood Pizza diners is the variety of offerings that are not, well, pizza. Our go-to salad at Driftwood is the antipasto salad — crunchy, tart and filling. 

How long at Driftwood? 3 years

Who is your mentor in the kitchen? A bunch of old-school Greeks in Connecticut. They taught me all about dough, bread and bitters (dressing).

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What makes this salad so popular? It has a little bit of everything. Plus all the ingredients are really fresh.

What’s your go-to meal at home? (Laughing) It’s called, “Honey, let’s go out to eat.” Seriously, I’m a steak-potato-asparagus guy. 

When you’re not in the kitchen, what are you doing? I’m working on cars or racing ATVs with my son. Right now I’m restoring a ‘49 Ford and the first car I ever owned, a little import. 

Sombrero Salad
Brutus Seafood,
Elise Mucha

Hello, flavor. The Sombrero Salad at Brutus Seafood is a salad of mixed greens, pineapple, hearts of palm, walnuts, asiago cheese drizzled with a sweet soy dressing. For an extra treat, add some fresh shrimp to the green fix. 

How long at Brutus: 5 years

Who is/was your mentor in the kitchen? Bruce Irwin, the founder of Brutus Seafood. He taught me two important lessons — you can never have enough employees and always make every dressing and sauce from scratch. 

What makes this salad so popular? I think it’s the combination of bright flavors. The pineapple gives it a kick, the nuts add texture and the shrimp gives it heft. 

What’s our go-to meal at home? Sushi. 

When you’re not in the kitchen, what are you doing? Baby, baby, baby! My son is a little over 3 months old. And, we just started the Florida Keys Shipping Company — a subscription service that delivers fresh seafood every month to our customers. We’re going to add meal kits next.  

Steak Salad
Sparky’s Landing
Carolyn Anthony

When you’re in the mood for steak, but trying to be responsible about getting greens into your diet, Sparky’s Landing has the steak salad for you. The flat iron steak provides the heft, blue cheese crumbles gives it a creamy touch and the balsamic vinaigrette pulls it all together.  

How long at Sparky’s Landing? This is our 15th year.

Who is/was your mentor in the kitchen? I’ve always loved food and enjoyed creating in the kitchen. I also have a friend that is a professional chef who inspires me.

What makes this salad so popular? It appeals to the carnivore AND herbivore in all of us and the textures work together. I guess it has the same appeal as steak and potato. (Editor’s note: true, this salad is garnished with potato sticks.) 

What’s our go-to meal at home? Lately I’m loving chicken breasts covered in panko bread crumbs and stuffed with cheese (Monterey or cheddar). I bake it in the oven and then drizzle Mike’s Hot Honey on top.

When you’re not in the kitchen, what are you doing? Boating, working in the yard, looking for treasure (sea shells).

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.