Back in February, I went to my friend Kristin’s house for a girls night. She served us gals a bunch of delicious things, but none of them was as notable as this chopped salad. I literally paused after my first bite to exclaim, “Holy crap – what is in this? It’s delicious!” After that, I scarfed down the rest of the salad (and got a second helping) in record time.
She sent me the link to the recipe originally found on cookitallergyfree.com (you can find that original recipe here), but I’ve since modified it to suit my tastes. In fact, that’s the best thing about this salad – add in what you like, leave out what you don’t and I’d bet my favorite hat that it’s delicious. The secret is in the homemade dressing, which is the real gem of this recipe.
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup mayo (I use Vegannaise)
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce (I use the jarred one from the pasta isle)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
*I never have buttermilk on hand, so I just add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Presto – you have buttermilk!
Now, just add all of the dressing ingredients together in a mixing bowl and whisk together until combined. I mix mine together in a large glass measuring cup that has a rubber lid (I think it’s made by Anchor and I got it from WalMart). I like the easy pour spout of the measuring cup and the lid is helpful because you can stir it, pour it and cover it for next time. I know this dressing lasts for at least 5 days because that’s how many days in a row I ate it when I first got the recipe.
Okay, now for my preferred salad ingredients.
Mixed lettuces (usually whatever is at the Farmers Market)
Diced baby bella mushrooms
Sunflower seed kernels
Chopped dried cherries
Chopped smoked salmon (for me) or diced chicken (for the Irishman)
*I only add the roasted corn if I’m feeling fancy. To roast it, I just buy the organic frozen corn kernels, put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast them for 30 minutes in a 300 degree over. They need to cool completely for the salad, so you can make them ahead of time easily.
Okay, the key to this salad is that the chopped lettuce (which you should chop pretty finely) is only about 1/6 the volume of the total salad. For most traditional salads, the lettuce is the main event and the sides just briefly make an appearance. For this chopped salad, every ingredient gets equal billing.
The original recipe’s website has an awesome presentation where everything is lined up beautifully. I’d probably take the time to do that if I wanted the WOW factor, but since I’m mostly just serving this for myself, I just throw all of the ingredients in a bowl, drizzle a healthy amount of the dressing on top, toss it really well so that everything is coated and call it a day.
For me, the best thing about a chopped salad is that every single bite has dressing on it. I mean, don’t you just hate when the top of your salad is saturated with dressing, yet the sad little lettuce leaves on the bottom of your bowl are bereft of any dressing love? Why did it take me over 3 decades to figure out the beauty of a chopped salad?
The important thing is that I now know and I’ll never go back to whole lettuce leaf salads. If you’re looking at this and thinking, “That looks great, but I don’t have the time to chop all those ingredients up every single time I want this salad!” Have no fear – here’s what you do.
1. Chop all of your lettuce finely and put it in an extra large mason jar (or other airtight storage container).
2. Chop your veggies (I usually do everything but the tomatoes, which can be runny) finely and put them in a separate container. *Hint – I layer the veggies as I chop them so that when I shake the mason jar, they distribute easily.
3. Combine your dry ingredients (nuts, sunflower seeds, dried cherries) and put them in a third container.
When you’re ready to assemble your salad, just shake out some lettuce, some veggies and some of your dry mix. Chop up your tomato and your protein (smoked salmon or cooked chicken), throw it in there and add in as much of the dressing that you want. With everything thing pre-chopped you can eat this every day of the week with virtually zero additional prep time.
Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!