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Ashley Christensen’s Poole’side Pies is in the works. The Poole’side Salad is here now.

Chef Ashley Christensen outside her restaurants Chuck’s and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. Christensen, who has built community through food, has helped stimulate Raleigh’s downtown with her restaurants.
Chef Ashley Christensen outside her restaurants Chuck’s and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. Christensen, who has built community through food, has helped stimulate Raleigh’s downtown with her restaurants. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Pizza-inspired salad is the lunch dreamscape that always seemed too beautiful to live.

Well, it’s here. Raleigh chef Ashley Christensen and Happy + Hale have teamed up to create a new salad named after her upcoming pizzeria, Poole’side Pies.

The James Beard Award-winning chef has partnered with local fast-casual spot Happy + Hale on a new collaboration salad. The Poole’side Salad will include arugula and shredded kale, with roasted squash and tomatoes, marinated peas, smoked mozzarella cheese and crisped slices of sopressata. The dressing is oregano and roasted tomato vinaigrette, and it’s topped with basil yogurt and toasted seeds.

This is the second time Happy + Hale has created a mashup salad with a local chef. In 2018, the Bida Bowl was on the menu, created with Raleigh Laotian restaurant Bida Manda. A portion of of every Bida Bowl (a red coconut curry chicken, jasmine rice and kale bowl) sold went to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, collecting nearly $6,000.

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The Pooleside Salad is a new collaboration salad between Happy + Hale and Raleigh chef Ashley Christensen, named for her upcoming pizzeria Pooleside Pies. Paul Mehaffey

The Poole’side Salad will benefit NextStep, a physical rehabilitation center with a local facility started by the family of Whiskey Kitchen co-owner Michael Thor.

Watch video of Michael Thor jump during therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

In 2015, as Whiskey Kitchen was readying to open, Thor was on his motorcycle when a car merged into his lane and hit him. The crash left him with a fractured vertebrae, shattered elbow, collapsed lung and broken ribs.

His family opened the rehab facility late last year as a place for people recovering from spinal cord injuries, strokes and diseases like multiple sclerosis.

The new salad will land on the menu of all three Happy + Hale locations — two in Raleigh and one in Durham — May 16. It will stick around for at least three months, according to a news release.

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Ashley Christensen opens her first restaurant in three years, jumping into the pizza game. Pooleside Pie, so named for its literal next door proximity to ChristensenÕs flagship Poole’s Diner, is slated to open later this year, slinging fire-kissed Neoplitan pizzas in downtown Raleigh. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

As for Poole’side Pies, construction is underway on Christensen’s pizza restaurant next to her original restaurant, Poole’s Diner, on South McDowell Street. The restaurant was announced in 2015, and anticipation hit a fevered pitch in 2017 when Christensen embarked on pizza research in Italy, documenting her finds on social media.

She explained the delay after the initial announcement, saying she wanted to slow down her company’s growth to “catch up on the other restaurants we’d opened.”

She told The News & Observer in 2017 that she has plans to make Neapolitan pizza, which cooks quickly in a very hot oven.

“It’s based on personal preference and celebrates the things that I love about pizza and cooking,” she told The N&O in a previous story. “That style is what is known as Neapolitan here in the States, but I felt like it was important to go to Naples to see what true Neapolitan pizza is, and how much that concept has been altered or translated as it’s spread throughout restaurants here.”

Christensen is nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef for the second consecutive year. The awards show is May 6.

Poole’side Pies will be at 428 S. McDowell St.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.
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