Chopped Salad

Veggies

 

Legend has it that Bob Cobb, the owner of The Brown Derby in Hollywood, invented the Chopped Salad in the 1930’s.  It caught on quickly among movie executives because it was lighter than steak and easier to eat. It was easy to negotiate a deal and not have to worry about cutting a steak. It didn’t hurt that, like the Caesar Salad, the Chopped Salad was accompanied by nifty tableside theatrics.

Flash forward to the 1990’s when upscale restaurants re-discovered the Classic Cobb Salad and “updated” it by creating a composed salad that was arranged neatly in a large bowl. Still, as delicious as the new and improved Cobb Salad was, it lacked a little something. Then tide began to turn and chopped salads are back in fashion, with the Old Fashioned Chopped Cobb leading the way.

It is no great mystery why the chopped salad is gaining in popularity over the traditional tossed or composed salad. In every bite of the chopped salad, you get a little taste of everything because everything is bite-sized. Chopped salads are rarely overdressed, in fact, it is easier to use less dressing for a chopped salad because the salad is chopped and incorporated before it arrives at the plate

There is only one hard and fast rule: do not chop before you are ready to serve. This beautiful creation needs to go straight from the chopping bowl to the tummy with only a brief rest on a plate.

 

Secondly, use homemade salad dressing.  This recipe for basic vinaigrette makes more than enough dressing for a very large chopped salad.  Use the basic ratio of 3:1, oil to acid, and a little salt and pepper. If you like a sweeter dressing, use a high quality apple cider vinegar.  Red wine vinegar goes well with Mediterranean or French flavors, while lime juice is the acid of choice for a Southwestern salad. If you want berries in the chop, try raspberry vinegar.

 

ready-to-chop

 

A good rule of thumb is to allow 2 cups of greens per person per serving. Romaine lettuce is a robust lettuce that seems to stand up to chopping without browning, so I use that as a base. Then I add baby spinach or kale; try arugula or mesclun. Beet greens are nice, as well as frisee or tatsoi.  This is the place to sneak as many leafy greens as you can into your picky eaters.

I like to use leftover chicken or steak in chopped salads. Chopped ham from the deli works well. Canned beans, rinsed well are a nice protein for a vegetarian chopped salad.

These recipes are a starting point. Squash, hard-boiled eggs, bell pepper, radishes or baby mozzarella balls all have a place in a chopped salad.  Use diced pepperoni for an Italian twist or pickled beets if you want a “Russian” chopped salad.  Nuts and seeds are a great addition to a chopped salad.

Invite friends over and have a salad party.  Clean out the fridge at the end of the week and chop your way into a quick and easy supper.

All-American-Chopped-salad

 

Chopped Salad Base

4 chopped salads

1 head of Romaine Lettuce, coarsely chopped

2 cups baby spinach

Chopped carrots

Chopped cucumbers

Chopped green onions

Cherry Tomatoes

 

All American Chopped Salad

2 cups chopped salad base

Diced Ham

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

English Peas

All American Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

French-fried onions

 

Place the first 4 ingredients in a plastic bowl and using a sharp knife, coarsely chop the ingredients. Drizzle 1 recipe of the Vinaigrette over the salad and continue chopping until the ingredients are bite-sized and the dressing covers the salad. Top with French-fried onions. Serve immediately.

 

Greek Chopped Salad

2 cups chopped salad base

Feta Cheese, crumbled

Olive medley, pitted and chopped

Grilled chicken, chopped

Oregano Vinaigrette

Place the first 4 ingredients in a plastic bowl and using a sharp knife coarsely chop the ingredients. Drizzle 1 recipe of the vinaigrette over the salad and continue chopping until the ingredients are bite-sized and the dressing covers the salad. Serve immediately.

 

Southwestern Chopped Salad

2 cups chopped salad base

Grilled chicken, chopped

Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

Black bean and corn salsa

Lime Vinaigrette

Crumbled Tortilla chips

Pumpkin seeds

Place the first 3 ingredients in a plastic bowl and using a sharp knife coarsely chop the ingredients until the ingredients are bite sized. Stir in the Black Bean and Corn Salsa, and drizzle 1 recipe of Lime Vinaigrette over the salad and mix well. Top with crumbled tortilla chips and pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.

 

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can of corn, drained

1 can of Rotel tomatoes, do not drain

Juice of 1 lime

1-teaspoon cumin

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a bowl with a tight-fitting lid, mix all the ingredients about 1 hour before you want to use. Store refrigerated.

 

 

Salad-Dressing

Basic Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 serving

3 Tablespoons light olive oil

1 Tablespoon vinegar or citrus juice

Salt and black pepper

 

Shake the ingredients vigorously in a tightly sealed jar.

 

To make All American Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, use white wine or champagne vinegar and add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and 1-teaspoon honey to the basic vinaigrette recipe. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To make Greek Oregano Vinaigrette, use red wine vinegar and add ½ teaspoon of dried oregano to the basic vinaigrette recipe. Make at least 30 minutes before serving so the dried oregano has time to release flavor.

To make Southwestern Lime Vinaigrette, use the juice of 1 lime instead of vinegar and add ½ teaspoon of cumin to the basic vinaigrette recipe. Taste and adjust seasoning.

 

 

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