I love a big ole’ bowl of fresh greens but… I’m a bit of a salad snob when visiting restaurants. I rarely order a salad out unless I know it’s going to be good. Because, while some eateries really nail the salads, others offer you a bowl of massive chunks of white iceberg with pink tomatoes and gloopy dressing and charge you $12.00.
I just can’t.
Not when I know how easy it is to make really good salads. But because I didn’t always know– here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way to bring salads back into the spotlight.
- Branch out with your greens. Romaine is perfect for heartier entree salads, or ones with creamier dressings. Also, Butter Lettuce is really good. Spring Mix is delicious when it’s fresh, but Arugula (Roquette) is my top choice for lighter side salads, or as a bed for chicken salad or fresh fish. It’s slightly peppery and holds up well.
- Chop it. Try to keep a somewhat uniform size for all your ingredients. Exact isn’t necessary, but chopping the ingredients makes it easier to eat.
- Toss it. A couple of years ago, I began tossing salad with the dressing in a larger bowl and it makes a big difference. You use less dressing and you don’t throw salad everywhere trying to mix in your good stuff on your plate.
- Make the dressing. Ok, stay with me. I’m not going full on crazy here– homemade salad dressing takes less than 5 minutes and has a fraction of the sugar of just about every bottle on my pantry shelf. There are a few* I rely on in a pinch, but 99% of the time, I grab a mason jar and a few ingredients and go to town.
This Italian Chopped Salad was inspired by several different salads I’ve had along the way. It’s the perfect accompaniment to pizza because it is filling and helps me to stick to one piece! I hope you love it. (P.S. I often leave off the garbanzo beans if I’m serving it as a side salad.)
- Dressing: ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- ¼- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp each of dried oregano, basil, and parsley
- ¾ cup of Olive Oil
- Salad: 2-3 Romaine hearts, chopped
- Two green onions, chopped
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- Grape tomatoes, chopped
- Red pepper, diced
- Part skim mozzarella cheese, cubed
- ¼ lb. Pepperoni or Salami. (I usually just get a bit from the deli counter)
- 1 cup of gently cooked and cooled garbanzo beans
- 3 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese
- Dressing: Mix all ingredients except olive oil in a jar with a lid and shake.
- Add olive oil and shake vigorously.
- Season with additional Salt & Pepper if needed.
- Salad: Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and then toss with ½ the dressing. The remaining dressing will keep refrigerated for several days.