For years we have been enjoying the Burger Salad at Five Napkin Burger in New York City. It’s evolved over time, but initially consisted of a big bowl of beautifully arranged baby greens and colorful veggie complements, in a perfect vinaigrette. Atop was a plump burger: beef, salmon, turkey, veggie or a solid piece of grilled tuna.
We love good bread and can [alas] eat loaves of it. But burger buns—even when heavily seeded or made of brioche—rarely fall into that group. And they get soggy.
So when Five Napkin Burger presented a menu of burger salads in addition to conventional burgers, we tried a salad and were hooked. We were never a neat burger eater, so enjoyed the bonuses: no meat juices or ketchup dripping onto us when we raised the burger to our mouth.
While it could be a calorie- and carb-cutting alternative for some, let us hasten to say that we enjoy our burger salad along with the establishment’s excellent onion rings, sweet potato fries, and a beer.
Today’s tip is not just a burger salad, but for those who still want their bun, a salad burger (below).
Our favorite way to enjoy a burger this burger salad from Five Napkin Burger. Photo courtesy Five Napkin Burger | NYC.
HOW TO CREATE A GREAT BURGER SALAD RECIPE
To start, think of your favorite salad and assemble the ingredients. Is it spinach salad? Cobb salad? Chopped salad? Salade Niçoise? Spicy greens (arugula, radish, watercress)? Tortilla salad?
Create your burger salad from those ingredients; and if the original salad contained chicken, turkey or other meat, consider adding small amounts of them—a mixed grill burger salad, as it were.
You can make a bacon cheeseburger salad or a diet burger burger salad. You can add seeds for more nutrition. And there are ways to cut calories. But here’s a list of options for starters:
Lettuce: mixed greens (we love to add arugula and cress, but have peaked on kale)
Salad veggies: bell pepper, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley), radishes
Tomatoes: cherry, grape, sliced, sundried—or substitute pimento (roasted red pepper)
Onions: green (scallions), red, sweet
BASIC SALAD INGREDIENTS
Cheese: crumbled, cubed, julienned, shaved ribbons or shredded
Extra veggies: broccoli florets, cauliflower, chiles, fennel, green beans, mushrooms—raw, pickled, roasted or steamed
Fruits: berries, dried fruit, mandarin or orange segments, sliced stone fruit, apples or pears
Luxury veggies: artichoke hearts, avocado, endive, hearts of palm, radicchio, water chestnuts
Seasonal veggies: for example, asparagus and green peas in spring; corn, yellow squash and zucchini in summer
Proteins: bacon, beans or legumes (chickpeas, lentils), ham, hard-boiled eggs, tofu/seitan, seafood (we recently created a modern surf and turf burger salad with grilled shrimp), slices or cubes of poultry, salami, sausage, etc.
Starch: boiled potatoes, cooked grains, small pasta shapes
Garnishes: anchovies, croutons, nuts, olives, peppadews, pepperoncini, pickles, seeds (chia, flax, pepita/pumpkin, sunflower, toasted sesame), sprouts
A burger salad begs for a delicious vinaigrette. Here’s our template for making a vinaigrette recipe you’ll love.
Some people are calorie and fat counters. If that’s you, go for a dressing of plain balsamic vinegar (conventional or white balsamic). It makes a delicious dressing with just 14 calories per tablespoon.
Another direction is to use lemon, lime or yuzu juice. Yuzu is imported from Japan and pricey, but worth it.
Low-calorie salsa also works, plain or mixed with a bit of salad oil. For a creamy dressing, mix salsa with plain Greek yogurt.
However, before you avoid salad oil, ask any nutritionist, the FDA or the American Heart Association: Two tablespoons daily of a heart-healthy oil are important for general health and specific conditions*. The recommended oils are monounsaturated, and include avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil.
It’s time to stop looking old-school at “calories” and “fat”—an old school way of looking at diet—and focus your choices on health and nutrition.
Plan B: Top your burger with a salad.
Photo courtesy Umami Burger | Hudson
THE SALAD BURGER
Instead of topping salad with a burger, you can top a burger with salad.
Far more than a bunless burger or “diet burger”—the type served by our local diner and others, which plates a burger patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and a scoop of cottage cheese—a salad burger tops your burger with a flavorful salad.
As you can see in the photo, it can be simple mixed greens, very lightly dressed. Since the burger is America’s favorite food, if you’ve been meaning to add more salad to your diet, here’s your chance.
*A BIG FOOTNOTE ON HEALTHY FATS
Monounsaturated fats deliver many health benefits, including:
Decreased risk for breast cancer.
Reduced cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of monounsaturated fats to improve one’s blood lipid profile.
Lower risk for heart disease and stroke. The FDA recommends that .8 ounce daily—about 2 tablespoons—may “possibly prevent coronary disease.”
Weight loss, when switching to monounsaturated fat from polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among others) and saturated fats (largely from animal products: meat, dairy, eggs).
Less severe pain and less stiffness for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. Diet plays a role in reducing the pain and stiffness of those who already have rheumatoid arthritis.