This past weekend, with a certain amount of glee, I told the girls that the kitchen was closed for business. I had just come off a week or two of recipe testing and large-scale cooking, Andy was traveling, and with a packed weekend, it was as good a time as any to grab food on the go. So we ordered pizza one night; we hit the diner for waffles…and hash browns and bacon; we ate Chicken Tikka Masala out of takeout containers while watching The Imitation Game on demand. I might’ve thrown one or two sticky buns in with my standard grande Pike order at Starbucks…and some of those “Reester” Bunnies in with the shampoo and trash bags at the CVS register. We went a little off the rails, and I’m not going to lie: It was fun.
But by the end of the weekend, Andy was back, we were all craving food that wasn’t wrapped in foil or plastic, and Sunday night seemed to be the proper time to right the ship. We ended up with Chopped Salad, something that sounds incredibly boring, but had somehow, I think through its pure delicious virtuousness, stayed on the brain a full day after its consumption. (Andy this morning mid-breakfast: “How good was that salad last night?”) I had made Phoebe a similar kind of thing for lunch last week, when the fridge housed only a few stray vegetables in the crisper and a near-empty jar of ranch dressing, but my age-old Chopped Salad Theory (mince vegetables finely enough, toss with a homemade dressing, and you cannot go wrong) held beautifully, and it was good enough for her to request a repeat performance.
There isn’t really a recipe for Chopped Salad — mine was made from the ingredients below, but I realize it’s a lot (we had a lot of redeeming to do) and therefore you should consider this list more of a suggestion than a mandate. I’d say the only important thing to remember is that whatever ingredients you decide to use, make sure to cut them in roughly the same size chop. And don’t skimp on the herbs.
Chopped Salad with Chicken and Herbs
Toss all of the following in a large bowl:
2 large chicken breasts, poached in simmering salted water until cooked, about 18 minutes, then chilled slightly and chopped into small cubes (you can also use meat from a Rotisserie chicken here)
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 Romaine heart, chopped
3-4 lacinato kale leaves (stems removed), chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes (grape tomatoes this time of year is best idea), chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 ear corn, kernels removed and cooked on a hot cast iron pan until charred
handful feta, crumbled
15 or so snow peas (chopped) or handful pea shoots
1 avocado, chopped
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup homemade ranch dressing (follows)
Homemade Ranch Dressing
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic salt
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped shallot or red onion
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
Add lemon juice, mustard, garlic salt, salt, pepper, onions and herbs to a jar. Cover and shake until ingredients come together. Add olive oil and buttermilk and shake again. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.