Chef Chris Shoul has cooked for various restaurants and hotels, including the Towson Sheraton Hotel, before coming to TU in 2000. During his 15 years with the university, Chef Shoul has tried to take the food in a different direction, while encouraging others to follow his own cooking philosophy. “If you’re not passionate about what you do, you won’t put out a good product.”
Anyone who’s had the chance to try any of the home-made salad dressings on campus knows Chef Shoul’s cooking philosophy rings true. Below, he goes over the key components for making the perfect salad and shares the recipes for three simple salad dressings. Read on to learn more- and to find out his number 1 cooking tip!
The 4 components of an Awesome Salad
“When it comes to salads- or any dish for that matter- it’s all about texture, flavor, color, and personal preference,” Shoul says. “When choosing greens, think about how the texture relates to the salad dressing used- with a thicker dressing use a hardy lettuce; with a light dressing use delicate greens, like spinach or arugula. When it comes to flavor, it’s really about creating a nice balance. Try pairing an acidic dressing with a creamy, pungent cheese, like goat or feta. Or add any kind of berry for sweetness. Most importantly, always keep your likes and dislikes in mind when cooking. You have the freedom to add what you like and take out what you don’t. Whatever you decide to add to your salad, always try to keep it colorful. ”
According to Chef Shoul, giving someone a hard and fast recipe gives them the ability to only make one dish. By encouraging people to follow the above guidelines, Chef Shoul hopes to change how people view cooking.
And Shoul’s number one tip is to try new things. “Sometimes people get so caught up in following a recipe. Don’t be afraid to get creative and play around with it. When it comes to cooking, you can’t go wrong when you have passion, presentation, and a little bit of TLC.”
Chili Ranch Dressing
The chili ranch dressing accompanies one of the most popular salads on campus: the Mexi Cali. Chef Shoul created his own spin on this salad by incorporating Mexican style ingredients such as black beans and corn. Try adding a little avocado or a few crunchy tortilla strips for that extra kick. And don’t forget to use a hardy lettuce, such as iceberg or romaine when using a thicker dressing like the chili ranch.
- 16oz ranch dressing
- 2 Tbsp hot sauce
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
Chef Shoul decided to get creative with this salad. He added turkey, bacon, and tomatoes and voila! A regular old Caesar salad is transformed into a Turkey BLT Caesar. Trying to stay on the healthier side of things? Chef Shoul recommends adding superfoods to your salad. Simply substitute quinoa crisps for those traditional croutons.
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Who doesn’t love this classic dressing? But if you’re in the mood to switch things up, substitute the balsamic vinegar in the recipe below for any other flavor of vinegar. Add some raspberry vinegar instead, and bingo- you’ve got raspberry vinaigrette!
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbsp minced onion
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1Tbsp Honey
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Tip: mixing by hand will yield a thinner dressing with a darker hue, while using a blender will result in a creamier texture with a lighter brown hue.
Can’t wait to get in the kitchen and try out these recipes? We’d love to hear about your cooking experience! Leave a comment below to let us know how it went or share a favorite recipe of your own.
Written by Amy Juskus