Turn chopped salad into a Mediterranean meal
Summer has officially arrived. It’s time to pause the oven and enjoy the cornucopia of summer veggies.
Salads are often thought of as a side dish, but with the right choice of ingredients, they can be a satisfying summer meal.
Popular in restaurants and salad bars, chopped salads are a great way to beat the summer heat. Part of their appeal is their portability and ease of consumption. With all the ingredients chopped to an even size and pre-mixed with the dressing, they don’t require a knife. All the flavors of the salad are found in every bite.
Chopped salads are an opportunity to express your creativity. The only real requirement is that the ingredients be fresh. Keep all the basic products for the pot.
The best chopped salads have a variety of textures and a rainbow of colors. Below is my version of a Mediterranean chopped salad. The addition of cheese and chickpeas adds protein to make this the perfect no-cook meal. Capers and olives give a salty taste to complement the other ingredients.
If you don’t have croutons, you can make your own. Cut a few slices of stale bread or rolls into 1/2-inch cubes. Mix with a little olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Mediterranean chopped salad
- 1 romaine heart, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1/2– inch pieces
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
- 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 radishes, diced
- 1/2 cup black or green olives, coarsely chopped (I like Kalamata olives)
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
- A handful of fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, mint or parsley, finely chopped
- 1 heaping cup of croutons
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cup feta cheese, diced or crumbled
- 6 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon drained capers, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- Salt and pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, capers, shallots, mustard, honey, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, olives, carrot and bell pepper. Add enough dressing to coat and toss well. Garnish with herbs, croutons, avocado and feta. Mix lightly and serve.
— Julie Falsetti, originally from York, comes from a long line of good cooks. His column, From Scratch, is published twice a month in the York Dispatch’s food section. Contact her with questions and comments at [email protected]