#Huangry: Salads at Sidewall Pizza
I know it seems like I really love food. And for the most part, I do. But I have a confession to make: there is one genre of food I really dislike. We’re talking serious, deep-seated, visceral distaste. That genre of food? Salads.
To be clear, I’m talking about your bog-standard green salad, the kind where lettuce and other leafy things predominate in volume and density. I know you can add in tons of things to spice up your salad—whole grains, meats, fish, nuts, fruit, cheese—but in my opinion, all that does is distract from how underwhelming the vegetable bits are, and it’s tempting to overload on those toppings to the point where the greens are an afterthought.
As with many deep-seated biases, you can trace my distaste for salad to my childhood. That formative period is where I began associating salads with semi-wilted iceberg lettuce, dried out matchstick carrots, and slices of unripe tomatoes. Those salads were only good for one thing: transporting Thousand Island dressing into my mouth. (I really loved Thousand Island as a kid. It reminded me of Big Macs and their special sauce, and, incidentally, how I’d much rather be eating a Big Mac than a salad.)
As unappetizing as those salads were, the bigger crime was that they were boring. You've had iceberg lettuce before, right? It’s monotonous to chew—watery, bland, flavorless, and not particularly filling—and even the crunch of a fresh leaf feels halfhearted. As a result, I’ve been conditioned to recoil from raw, leafy things. Even so, every spring, when temperatures start climbing and everything begins blooming, it makes sense that I should try to like salads. After all, a pot roast is much less appetizing when it’s 80 degrees outside.
Luckily, I found Sidewall Pizza’s Smoky Salad. To start, there’s nothing boring about this incarnation of spring mix. The organic leafy base—which forms the majority of the salad—is topped with roasted corn and broccoli, grape tomatoes, chopped bits of red onion, and smoky candied walnuts. It’s then tossed with a subtle basil dressing.
It’s visually vibrant—a collection of deep purples and greens, hazard yellows, bright reds, creamy whites, and toasted browns, all topped off with a pleasing sheen from the dressing. It’s also a dynamic and playful salad, as every bite offers something different. The exact ratio of mild, creamy cheese, firm corn, bursting tomatoes, silky greens, crunchy walnuts, and punchy onions varies bite-to-bite, which means there’s no monotony here.
Furthermore, there’s an undeniable fresh sweetness to this salad. It’s neither sugary sweet, nor does the dressing take over the way an over-application of balsamic vinaigrette can. It’s a balanced presentation that actually allows the produce to shine.
Is this one salad enough to overturn decades of ingrained intolerance? Probably not, but at $6 a bowl, I’m willing to give it a shot.
- It’s a really pretty salad.
- Each bite delivers something different, which means this salad is actually interesting to eat.
- At $6, it doesn’t feel like you’re overpaying for raw vegetables.
- Sidewall’s downtown Greenville location is opening soon, which means a slightly shorter trip for those who don’t live near Travelers Rest.
- “Smoky” is a bit misleading—the corn and broccoli are lightly roasted, and so there’s not a really heavy smokiness.
- You’re at a pizza place, which means you’ll probably still order a pizza, wiping out the health benefits of this salad.
Sidewall Pizza Company
35 S Main St, Travelers Rest, SC
(864) 610-0527, sidewallpizza.com
Smoky salad, $6 (single serving); $12 (giant mixing bowl)