Rob Rosenthal on Chopped Salads

How did we ever live without them?
Rob Rosenthal on Chopped Salads
Chopped Salad

Chopped Salad

So often, salads are forgettable. I think that’s because they’re generally served as the precursor to something else we call the "main course." Their ingredients are uninspiring, their composition haphazard, and their dressing either over- or under- whelming. A shameful waste of perfectly good stomach space.

Then there are the salads that pleasure your taste buds and stimulate your palate. So irresistible that you don’t want them to end. That is a sexy salad.

So what does it take to have one?

1. FRESHNESS. The components should be fresh, not canned or frozen. There are exceptions (marinated artichoke hearts, water chestnuts), but very few. Straight-from-the-garden matters.

2. TEXTURE. You need texture. I like the crispiness of romaine, but whatever lettuce you choose as your base, it should be supplemented by shredded vegetables that have crunch; carrots and purple cabbage are ideal. Croutons are fabulous when they’re homemade — if not, you’re eating stale bread. Nuts and seeds are a delight.

3. INGREDIENTS. Not counting the lettuce, more than six ingredients is overkill. Choose veggies (carrots, cukes, mushrooms, tommies), your protein (chicken, tuna, turkey), a corresponding cheese (blue, parm, feta), and a little extra "something something," like pine nuts. They rock; sunflower seeds are brilliant, too. Craisins don’t suck.

4. CHOP IT. I’m not sure what we did before they routinely started chopping salad. But I’ve taken a poll, and people want their salad chopped. Making it at home? You’ll want to own a "double mezzaluna."

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5. DRESSING. Do not overdress. Drowning a salad is a cardinal sin. And unless you’re going with nothing but a wedge of iceberg and crispy bacon bits — perfect with blue cheese dressing — avoid the creamy kinds. The dressing is not the star, but a supporting player. A simple vinaigrette allows the salad’s constituents to shine.