A couple of months ago, I discovered the “create-your-own salad” carryout bar in the bakery/cafe section of my local Il Fornaio restaurant and have been absolutely hooked ever since. The salads run $6.99 and are not only quite large, but healthy, delicious, and entirely diabetic-friendly — if you choose the correct toppings, of course. The meal is now my go-to lunch staple when I am on the run and since there are Il Fornaio outposts located all over the U.S., including 16 in California alone, I thought the dish was most-definitely blog-worthy.
The create-your-own salads are mixed right in front of you, much like a sandwich is made at Subway. You start by choosing one of three different lettuce assortments – mixed field greens, romaine or spinach – which a server will pour into a large bowl. Then you pick up to five toppings – choices include cucumber, bacon, feta cheese, bleu cheese, mushrooms, tofu, hard-boiled eggs, and broccoli, among countless others – which the server will also mix into the bowl. Tuna or chicken can also be added on for an additional $2.59.
Finally, you choose from five different dressings, including ranch and classic Caesar. I always get my dressing on the side so that I can mix it in later when I am ready to eat.
I often get asked for fast and easy to-go meal solutions and I have to say that Il Fornaio’s salad is my number-one choice. It is quick (the servers mix it all up in less than two minutes), easily transportable, very low in carbs (if, as I said above, you choose your toppings wisely), and fairly reasonably priced, especially for its size. If I know I am going to be out all day and will not have a lot of healthy lunch options to choose from wherever I am going, I will stop by Il Fornaio in the morning and grab a salad to take with me. And while these kinds of make-you-own salads can be found in delicatessens all over New York, this is the first time that I have ever spotted such a thing in the Los Angeles area. To see if there is an Il Fornaio located near you, you can visit the restaurant’s official website here.