Madison Ride-or-Dies Part II: Make-Your-Own Salad at Forage Kitchen

By Lauren Lamothe, Social Media and Marketing Director

“Madison Ride-or-Dies” is a series in which our writers and staff write love letters to uniquely Madisonian foods they just can’t live without.

So I have this list. It is about 102 items long, and categorized by meal: brunch, casual, fancy, pizza, sweets. Whenever there is a  night out with friends, a treat yourself meal when my parents are in town or just my go-to cravings, I consult this list. As you can see, I’m really trying to expand my palate and enjoy the Madison food scene, but I continuously end up right back at Forage Kitchen.  

I try to branch out but there is nothing like a build-your-own salad at Forage Kitchen. Let me tell you, this is an art. Like Matt Shelver, Community Editor, said in his Ride or Die article

“You can’t quite nail down when exactly you first did this thing, but you nevertheless know that the ritual had to have started at some point.”

I don’t remember when I first made this salad, but I can tell you, I’ve never ordered anything different from Forage since.

I remember when Forage first opened, talk of a healthy salad place on State Street sent everyone into a fury of excitement. Health food seems to be the biggest trend these days and I was hopping right on it. First, my daily trips to Forage started out with experimentation. I would switch it up depending on the day, the mood I was in, or if I was running to class or the library. I even went through a stage of just strictly ordering a Power Bowl. But now, two years later, I only order what my roommates now call “The Lo Salad.”

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The Lo Salad:

  • All kale
  • Double sweet potato
  • Black beans
  • Goat cheese
  • Jerk chicken
  • Salsa-roja dressing mixed in
  • Muhammara spread on top.

That’s it. You have your vegetables, your beans, your protein, and, most importantly, your cheese.

The day Forage came out with their Muhammara spread was the defining moment for my salad. In case you didn’t know what Muhammara is, it’s similar to the consistency of hummus but is made with roasted red peppers and walnuts instead of chickpeas. Put a dollop of the umami explosion on top of the salad to tie it all together and dip each bite of kale in it for a hearty, creamy taste.

When you first taste the Forage sweet potatoes, you see sweet potatoes in a whole new light. Not kidding, my best friend goes into Forage just to order a side of sweet potatoes (yes she started this and yes it is allowed–try it sometime). I cannot think of a time that you should not order double sweet potato in your salad: it really changes the whole dynamic of the dish. I don’t know how they roast the sweet potatoes or what seasonings they use, but they are perfectly soft and add the perfect amount of sweetness to each earthy bite of kale.

Now for the spice. I know everyone hypes up the green-goddess and thai-basil pesto dressing from Forage, but hot take, salsa-roja is the best dressing they make. Not exactly as hot as your portable keychain of sriracha and not too overpowering, this dressing adds a huge pop of heat to the salad. It ties in perfectly with the muhammara and helps balance the sweetness of the sweet potato. Plus, the combination of the crunchy kale, the sweet jerk chicken, and the heat of the salsa-roja complement each other so well that it heightens the flavor profile of the Lo Salad.

So the next time you walk into Forage and feel like this:

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I hope you give my salad a try. Salad may seem like ruffage and a New Years resolution diet chore, but I promise you that The Lo Salad tastes amazing and you’ll feel even better after eating it. I can also guarantee that I’ll be bumping into you at Forage more than a few times in the future.

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