Menu Innovations | October 2015 | By Sam Oches

Inspirations: The Little Beet’s Cardini Salad

Franklin Becker, chef/owner of the New York–based fast casual The Little Beet, shares what inspired him when he developed the restaurant's Cardini Salad.
New York City QSR fast casual brand develops innovative new salad menu item.
The Little Beet’s Cardini Salad The Little Beet

“Cardini is the one who created the original Caesar salad. So my thought was, how can I create a Caesar salad, which is loaded with saturated fat and the like, and make it healthy for The Little Beet? What I did was take chickpeas and I puréed them in a blender with roasted garlic and olive oil, some chile, and some lemon juice. I was able to replicate the texture of the Caesar dressing without the eggs and all that added fat. I also included some Dijon mustard in there for some zing.

The Players:


• Romaine lettuce

• Parmesan

• Avocado

• Chickpeas

• Sunflower seeds

• Chickpea dressing

Chickpea dressing:

• Chickpeas

• Roasted garlic

• Olive oil

• Chile

• Lemon juice

“I used some of the cooking liquid from the chickpeas, which has been fortified with carrots and garlic and celery and thyme, to help form that purée and create that mouthfeel. With the addition of olive oil, roasted garlic, lemon juice, chile, and a little Dijon mustard, I’m able to create a dressing that’s much healthier and lighter and still have the same creamy factor.

“From there I was able to microplane over the top of the salad a little bit of Parmesan, so I’m getting very little Parmesan, but it’s going a long way. Then I include the ultra-rich avocado, which is healthy fat, and I include chickpeas, which are a protein and take the place of the croutons. I also include sunflower seeds, which gives it a nutty bite and replicate the flavor profile behind toasted bread.

“You want things that are familiar, especially in the fast-casual space, but also things that are new and exciting. When you’re eating the salad, you swear you’re eating a Caesar salad, but you’re eating the healthiest Caesar salad on the planet.”

—Franklin Becker

Chef/Owner, The Little Beet

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