This is your Chop Stop: Chop Salads for All Occasions

 

            I ate a really BIG lunch today. You know the kind I’m talking about. A business lunch/meeting where a basket of bread and 27 pats of butter or 1/2 a carafe of olive oil disappears before the iced tea is served and the waiter has taken your order. Perhaps you’ve also experienced the “I’m on deadline” lunch, send out for pizza, bread sticks or nachos and chips eat at your desk noon time snack. So when dinner time rolls around you know what I mean when I say you really really REALLY don’t want to eat two HUGE calorie and cholesterol laden meals in one day. This is when I pull out my trusty chopped salad recipes and do my best to ignore the fact that I’ll probably “do” another gigantic lunch again next week .

            A chopped salad is a salad that has no rules (well almost none) about what it can contain. It is the perfect balance of chopped veggies, chopped salad greens, and all kinds of other stuff lightly coated with a tangy, flavorful dressing.

            Starting with great salad greens is important. You can use red and green leaf lettuce; Romaine, Boston and Bibb lettuce; curly endive and escarole; spinach; watercress or a combination of all of the above. There are quite a few “spring mix” or “mesclun,” a premixed batch of very interesting greens that also work very well. However, if you’re asking my opinion (and since you’re reading this column I’m supposing you are) I suggest that you keep it simple and use the Romaine, Boston, Bibb, or spinach. Iceberg, well, not so much. While perfectly acceptable it’s not nearly as flavorful as the others. Chunks of your favorite veggies, sometimes fruit and even cheese or meat round out the salad. Be warned, the dressing is where many a good salad has met its downfall. Typically, the dressing is where the humongous calorie count is so my advice is to keep it light, keep it simple and don’t over do. You can always pass extra dressing with the salad so that everyone can saturate it to their own satisfaction.

MEDITERRANEAN CHOPPED SALAD (pareve)
This colorful salad can be presented as individual servings or arranged on a large platter on a bed of chopped romaine just before serving.

2 cups chopped red bell pepper
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
1 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce

In a large bowl combine everything except the romaine lettuce. Toss to coat and cover and chill up to 1 hour. Arrange 1 cup lettuce on each of 6 small plates or on a large serving platter top with bell pepper mixture and serve immediately. Serves 6.
CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN CHOPPED SALAD

Dressing

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

2 teaspoons minced fresh shallots

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 1/3 cups olive oil

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Salad

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped into 1/8 inch wide strips

1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped into 1/8 inch wide strips

12 leaves basil, chopped into fine strips

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup garbanzo beans

4 cups ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

3 cups smoked white fish chunked

2 tablespoons chopped scallions

For salad, toss together the ingredients in a large bowl and chill in your refrigerator for dressing, whisk together ingredients in a small bowl and chill for an hour. Just before serving, toss dressing with salad and serve on small individual plates. Can serve 4 for a main dish or 8 for small side salads.

CHINESE CHOPPED SALAD (meat)

1 head green leaf or iceberg or romaine lettuce, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
6 oz. fresh or frozen snow pea pods, stemmed and julienned
2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey or chunked deli meat
1 (3 oz.) pkg. spicy-flavored instant ramen soup mix
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
Salt and pepper

Combine lettuce, onions, bell pepper, pea pods and chicken in large bowl. Crumble dry noodles from soup mix over mixture. Combine seasoning packet from soup mix with vinegar and soy sauce in small bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk in peanut oil and sesame oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad; toss to thoroughly mix. Pile mixture onto 4-6 salad plates and sprinkle each serving with sesame and almonds. Serves 4 to 6.

NOTE: For milder flavored dressing, substitute chicken or beef flavored instant ramen soup

CHOPPED GREEK SALAD (meat)
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 small garlic clove, minced

6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1 cup very thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb
2 chopped hard cooked eggs
4 ounces thinly sliced salami, cut into strips
1/4 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives

In a bowl combine oil, vinegar, oregano, and garlic and whisk to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.  In a large bowl combine the lettuce, garbanzo beans, bell pepper, red onion, fennel, eggs, salami, and sliced olives. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Mound salad on platter and serve. Serves 6.

Modified from a recipe on Epicurious by Steve Silverman, South Burlington, VT

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TEX MEX CHOPPED SALAD (dairy)

Mustard Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Salad:
1/2 cup diced canned artichoke bottoms
Salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup diced carrots, blanched   
1/2 cup diced green beans, blanched
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced radicchio
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced ripe avocado
1/4 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mixed greens, such as curly endive, chicory, and baby lettuce, cut or torn into bite-size pieces

In a small bowl, combine the mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in oil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and set aside. Whisk again when ready to serve.
In a bowl combine the artichoke, onion, radicchio, corn, and celery.
When ready to serve, dice the avocado and the tomato and add to the other vegetables. Reserving a little vinaigrette, toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette, sprinkle with the grated cheese, and toss again. Correct seasoning to taste.
Toss the greens with the reserved vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide the salad greens among 4 salad plates. Mound the chopped salad on the greens and serve immediately. Serves 4

Submitted by Carmen Kensly Anderson IN

WOLFGAN PUCK CHOPPED VEGETABLE SALAD (pareve)

1 small or 1/2 large head romaine lettuce, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 medium green apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 1 ear of corn)
1 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced, for garnish

Dressing
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

To make dressing, toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat 2 minutes, shaking frequently. Add cumin and continue toasting and shaking pan, 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper, vinegar and olive oil to pan and whisk until ingredients are blended. Cool. Serves 4

CHOPPED THAI SALAD WITH PINEAPPLE, CUCUMBER AND PEANUTS

1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh or canned pineapple chunks

1 English cucumber or 1 medium cucumber

3 spring onions (green onions), sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly, or diced

1/2 cup dry whole roasted unsalted peanuts or another nut, such as cashews

handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup fresh coriander

2 cups chopped lettuce

1 to 2 cups cooked chunked chicken pieces (optional)

SALAD DRESSING:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili sauce (or more if you want it extra spicy)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon peanut butter

juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon pineapple juice

lime wedges, optional

Place all salad dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine and set aside.

Place pineapple chunks in a mixing bowl. Peel and cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Cut these sections again lengthwise (several times if the cucumber is thick), then slice the other way to create cubes or chunks. Add these to the mixing bowl. Clean out the seeds of the red bell pepper, then slice it thinly into strips. Slice these in half to create matchstick-like pieces. Add these to the mixing bowl. Add the sliced green onion and the whole roasted peanuts. Add most of the basil, lettuce and coriander, putting aside a little of each for the garnish.

Pour the salad dressing over the vegetables. Toss well. Scoop the salad onto the serving plate. Top with the extra basil and coriander plus a sprinkling of ground or chopped peanuts. If desired, serve with lime wedges on the side. Serves 4 to 6

CASHEW CHOPPED SALAD (pareve)

1 English cucumber

1 carrot, grated

 1 cup whole roasted unsalted cashews

1/2 large red bell pepper, or 1 small red pepper, sliced thinly

2 green onions, sliced (or cut in strips lengthwise)

3 cups chopped romaine and red leaf lettuce

SALAD DRESSING:

1 Tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili sauce (or more if you want it spicier)

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large salad bowl. Whisk together and taste for sourness/spiciness, adding more sugar to taste, or more chili if it’s not spicy enough.  Slice the cucumber, and then cut the slices in half so you have half moon shapes. Place them in a salad bowl. Add the grated carrot, cashews, red pepper, and green onions, toss well. Add the lettuce and toss to coat. Serves 4

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