Ah salad. Surely not something we get enough of around here. It’s not that we avoid vegetables. In my home growing up, my mom made a salad every night. It was usually the same salad every night–same dressing, similar ingredients that might vary by the season from time to time–but there was salad nonetheless. And I think the frequency with which salad was served made me undervalue the beauty of the salad.
I’m sorry, salad. I’m sorry for taking you for granted.
From time to time, I do crave a good salad. And sometimes I find myself with a bounty of lettuce in my fridge, as I did today after picking up a “salad share” of veggies from a local farm. So, my favorite knife in hand, I attempted to reconcile my relationship with salad.
I chuckled when I discovered that with a few exceptions, salad had largely been chopped from our regular dinner menu. Today the salad was finally served, chopped.
I was intrigued by the idea of a chopped salad from a series of pages in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Food Revolution cookbook. They’re extremely versatile in that you can add in your favorite ingredients, let the chopping mix everything together in sizes that you could practically eat with a spoon if you wanted to, and further, chopped salads take “rabbit food” to the next level. You know what I’m talking about–poorly mixed salads leave you crunching watery pieces of lettuce in one bite and cringing at the sharp sting of that huge slice of onion in the next bite, all while navigating those over-seasoned croutons which are definitely too big to chew with any other part of the salad in your mouth (but just as hazardous to attempt to cut with a knife and fork–seriously? Who cuts croutons with a knife and fork without sending at least one piece ricocheting off the table?).
Uh. Clearly I have some issues with a certain chain restaurant’s salad offerings…
Back to my reconciliation then. The thing about chopped salad that is so fun is that you put everything you want in your salad on your biggest cutting board. Give it a rough chop to get it started.
Then you run your knife back and forth, chopping away, until your ingredients are of roughly equal size. While you’re at it, go ahead and drizzle your dressing right on top of everything, and gently use your knife to fold it together to mix.
Doesn’t that look awesome? Now look, I don’t know quite enough about food trends to know whether chopped salads are like so 80s or something. I saw a chopped salad on a menu recently, and when I ordered it, it was basically a regular looking house salad from a salad bar. What part of that salad was chopped? I wanted to ask. Oh, I see, thank you for sparing me the extra effort of cutting my lettuce into manageable pieces. I didn’t realize it was a lettuce-chopped-everything-else-chop-it-yourself salad. NO! If you order a chopped salad, this is what it should look like, don’t you think?
Here’s what I used today:
Simple Chopped Salad (inspired by instructions from Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver)
– 1 small head lettuce – make sure the leaves are washed and dried
– 2 thick slices from a red onion
– 1 small red bell pepper
– 1/2 medium green chili pepper
– 3 hard-boiled eggs
Chop all ingredients!
For the dressing:
– 1 teaspoon prepared honey mustard
– 1 generous teaspoon honey
– splash of white wine vinegar (sorry I didn’t measure–maybe 1 teaspoon?)
– pinch of salt and pepper
– olive oil
Mix everything together. Whisk in the olive oil slowly until it comes together. Taste. If it’s too sharp, add a bit more olive oil.
Drizzle dressing over chopped ingredients and gently use edge of knife to fold together to mix. You want enough dressing to lightly coat everything after it’s been tossed. If you use too much, the salad will be soggy.
That’s it! Pile high in a bowl or on a plate with a grating of cheese if you wish. I also served some sliced tomatoes from my miracle tomato plant (more on that tomorrow) and some na’an (not pictured).
So come on, spill! Do you have any secret salad vendettas? Does a chopped salad defy the definition of a salad or does it elevate it to something classier (or perhaps more rustic?) What ingredients would comprise your ideal chopped salad?