With the oncoming spring weather, I have begun craving salads more often. This has led me to go in search of one I like enough to eat every day, so I can make it ahead of time rather than digging out piles of whatever fruits and vegetables I have on hand and wash and chop and... end up with a hunk of banana bread for lunch instead.
Guess what? I found a great one.
No, really. The salad I made was scrumptious – even my husband loved it. I know he loved it, because after scarfing the whole bowlful, he said “If all salads were like that one, I could get used to eating them!”
That is high praise from a notorious salad critic. I do have to admit that although I love salads, I have always had a difficult time devising a decent one at home. The flavors of the ingredients I have on hand often don’t match, and with all the chunky, leafy bits, it usually just feels awkward to eat.
I was contemplating a trip to one of my favorite salad-joints (there are salad joints, yes), a place formerly known as “Chopped”, where they literally just finely chop up all the amazing ingredients to make your ginormous, fresh, salad. And it occurred to me that maybe, if I just chop my ingredients, it will suddenly be great.
So I chopped.
A flurry of knife strokes later, during which my fingers carefully stayed out of harm’s way, there laid a pile of various fruits and vegetables reduced to the size of perfection. I placed them atop my sliced up spring greens, drizzled on a bit of raspberry vinaigrette, and dug in.
I appreciated the way I could now take human-sized bites with a little bit of everything in each one, rather than trying to stuff in one excessive lettuce leaf at a time. The flavor combination, though – aka my refrigerator’s offerings that day – was just par.
The next time, I was better prepared. Armed with the simple and effective strategy to slice and dice, coupled with a Greek-themed arsenal of veggies (actually bought with pizza-making in mind), I met with success. And success was delicious.
And so, without further fanfare, I give my fellow salad-philes – as well as skeptics – this Greek-inspired delight.
Chopped Spring Salad
Makes 4 lunch salads or 6 side salads.
4 cups romaine lettuce, washed and thoroughly dried
4 cups spring greens mix, washed and dried as well
4 medium carrots, washed and peeled
½ large cucumber, washed
1/3 large red onion, ends and outer layer removed
About 1 cup cherry tomatoes, washed
7 artichoke hearts – fresh, frozen, or canned in brine or marinade
½ cup pitted kalamata or green olives
Pepper, freshly ground
Sesame seeds (optional)
Red wine vinegar
Goat cheese crumbles
Optional: protein, such as fish or tofu
Chop everything. A lot. Throw in bowl. Add seasonings as desired. Enjoy thoroughly!
Serious Salad Directions:
Slice lettuce and greens in one direction with a chef’s knife, and then turn the cutting board to slice in the other direction. Do this by bunching up the lettuce with the free hand atop the cutting board, careful to keep all fingers underneath your knuckles to avoid being cut with the knife!
Seriously. Two sliced up fingers have taught me the value of attention paying and good knife-wielding practices.
Chop carrots from one end to the other, making lots of little carrot-circles. Then chop them to smaller bits by piling them all together and running through them several times with a knife, simply lifting and lowering the handle-end of it with the free hand palm open on the other end of the knife. Again. Fingers out the way.
Slice the cucumber half into thin rounds, 1/8 inch thick or less. Then, stack the rounds and slice four ways to make small wedges.
The red onion should be chopped fairly thinly, with the knife blade running perpendicular to the rings on the onion, and can then be chopped smaller if desired.
With the two avocado halves still in their skin, pit removed carefully, use a small, blunt knife, to slice avocado several times in one direction, and then perpendicularly. The avocado should be able to be scooped out easily with a spoon then, and the flesh will come out in small cubes.
Slice each cherry tomato in halves or fourths.
Chop the artichokes and olives to bits.
Throw everything on top of the lettuce, of course after you put the lettuce in a bowl, add cheese, season with jussst a bit of each of the seasonings (though I do prefer heavy vinegar), serve with country bread or focaccia, and NOW you can enjoy your salad. You’re welcome.