The Art of the Chopped Salad
A non-recipe recipe for a delicious lunch.
A few months ago, I snapped what I thought was a rather unappealing photo of my lunch, overlaid it with the cheeky caption, “PSA: chop ur salads. If it looks like mush, you’re doing it right,” and shared the photo on Instagram stories. To say I was surprised by the response would be an understatement. I received a flood of DMs, either wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agreeing with my statement, or asking for specifics on my visually discordant bowl of mush. My unsightly lunch struck a cord in a way that assured me of a fact that, in my heart, I already knew to be true.
The best salad is, unequivocally, a chopped salad.
Ever stabbed a big piece of romaine in a Caesar salad and inelegantly shoved it into your mouth, embarrassingly smearing dressing everywhere? Me too. But that’s not a problem with chopped salad. The ingredients are chopped and small enough for ultimate eating ease! More importantly, mincing melds flavors together—creating smaller individual ingredients via chopping means you end up with a little bit of everything in each bite. Yum. It’s also an amazing way to use up leftovers or repurpose meal preps into a fresh, new meal. I think you get the picture—I’m obsessed with chopped salads and think you should be too!
Pick your ingredients and get creative. If you follow this general template, you can’t go wrong:
A leafy green. Romaine, kale, spinach, or a good ol’ supermarket spring mix are all great. Volume-wise, this should be the bulk of your salad, so for a single serving, I usually go with 2 large handfuls.
A fatty element. Cheese is my go-to here, but avocado, nuts, olives, or even an extra drizzle of olive oil can stand in for the vegans and lactose intolerants among us. Go for a few tablespoons per serving.
An acidic element. Your dressing may serve as the acidic element in your chopped sal, but I usually like to up the acid ante and add something like bread and butter pickles or capers to mine. Do this to your own taste.
A carb. Leftover rice is a favorite in my house, but any other grain, stale bread, roasted potatoes, or even relatively neutral leftover noodles can stand in here. Add whatever you consider a serving to your salad.
A protein. Choose tinned fish, last night’s leftover lemon pepper chicken breast, a few spoonfuls of canned beans, or whatever else you have hanging out in your fridge or pantry that’ll give you the necessary amino-acid-based nutritional oomph. As with the carbs, use as much as you consider a single serving for you.
Everything else! Don’t be shy with your selections. My chopped salads are often comprised of 10+ ingredients because I like to use them as an opportunity to finish up the bits and bobs hanging out in the fridge. Common additional elements in my salads: fried rice, ready-made slaws, leftover roasted or sautéed veggies, fresh herbs, and raw veggies like celery, radishes, shredded carrots, and cucumbers.
Time for the step we’ve all been waiting for: chop it! You can go about this in one of two ways: either individually chop each ingredient on a (stable!) cutting board and add them to a large bowl as you chop. Or, if chopped salads make it into your regular rotation, you might consider investing in a bowl and chopping tool. As a chopped salad fanatic, I have one and use it regularly.
Season your salad. So many people forget this imperative salad making step and I don’t want you to be one of them. Add a hearty pinch of salt to your salad. Adjust it up or down depending on how salty your other ingredients are (lots of pickle-y/cheesy things? Less salt). Toss, taste, and add more as necessary.
Dress your salad. I often opt for a simple homemade vinaigrette (1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp vinegar of choice, 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tsp honey or maple syrup, and a hefty pinch of salt, shaky shaky) but as with everything else about the instructions for chopped salad, you should go with whatever your heart desires.
Toss it. And toss it well. Then taste it, and adjust with more salt and dressing as necessary. Serve it up, or avoid extra dishes and eat it your big salad straight out of the bowl you tossed it in and enjoy!
Phew, that about covers it, I think. As always, I’d love to hear about or see how you put this tip to use, so feel free to tag me on Instagram, shoot me a DM, or respond here via email. And if you have questions about chopped salad or any other tip I’ve offered up in the past, let me know—I’m at your service.
Before I go, a quick reminder that Abigail and I are hosting a virtual meal prep class and would love for you to join us! Use the code SUNDAY for 10% off your ticket and grab it ASAP—we sold out the first round so added more spots, but those are going fast as well.
With love and a *tip* of my chef’s hat,