Righting the Ship: Chopped Salad


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
handful pepitas
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.

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22 Comments

Lauren

I think I need to have this, too. I’ve been giving in to Girl Scout cookie temptation a lot lately.

Reply
The Prestigious School

I love that you closed the kitchen for a weekend! The work that went into chopping all these vegetables is proof that you returned on Sunday night refreshed and ready to go.

Reply
Margit Van Schaick

So appetizing. In our family, I would have the girs help with all the chopping. Makes it easier. We had a huge salad EVERY day. To accompany whatever else.

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Savita @ ChefDeHome

Love chopped salads! Even though I’m a huge fan of any kind of salad, my special favorite about chopped salad is even bites :) I agree: everything taste good in chopped salad. In yours, feta and herbs are making me imagine the flavors you enjoyed!

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Dani Elis

Yum! I love a good salad when you have eaten your self silly all weekend :) it’s like temple food… making you feel better about eating everything you possible could over two days!

Reply
Julie

Made this the other night and all of us are STILL remembering it with deep fondness. Best Salad EVER.

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Marie

I was going through a food burnout until I saw this recipe ans thought :”This ! This is what I want to eat !”. So the husband and I took the kids to Jean Talon market this morning, shopped for the ingredients to this salad. While we were there, we bought some fresh pasta and sauce at the little italian grocer. Thank you for this recipe, which inspired me to get out of our food rut, explore our wonderful market and got me interested in cooking again .

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Donna

I had a similiar salad night last week, however mine didn’t go over quite as well. My crew didn’t appreciate the salad for dinner option and I was met with large protests. Well, at least I had a delious lunch for a couple of days.

Reply
Carolyn

I made this last Sunday exactly as you wrote it except offered chicken and shrimp and let the kids add any of the ingredients they preferred. I’ll admit it took awhile but we talked about it all week -that dressing was amazing!! They asked for it again this weekend and it was my pleasure to spend the time making it. Thank you!

Reply
Judy

After the way I ate over the Easter holiday I am starting to really crave salad and this one looks really good! I also appreciate that recipe for homemade ranch dressing since I hate using store bought salad dressings.

Reply