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The Journal Gazette

  • Washington Post photos With a little preparation and fresh ingredients, you can whip up a Chipotle-Garlic Chopped Salad.

  • Re-create the $30 Freds Chopped Chicken Salad.

  • Washington Post Jimmy’s Special Chopped House Salad is filling enough for lunch.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018 1:00 am

Meal made chop-chop

Prepare ingredients in advance to enjoy quick, tasty salad

Bonnie S. Benwick | Washington Post

What makes a good chopped salad?

It need not have specific ingredients, the way, say, a Cobb salad ought to include blue cheese and hard-cooked egg, tomato and avocado. And, in light of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recent romaine lettuce warning, there's good reason to explore a variety of leafy greens. Texture is key; no solid components should be significantly larger than others. The raw and the cooked are often side by side. Bite to bite, it can vary, with the overall effect of jumbled treasure.

The dressing does need to bring it all together with harmonic sweetness and acidity.

What you can do with all chopped salads you make at home is to prep the ingredients a day or two in advance and stash them separately. Radish slices stored in cool water will stay crisp. Cut lettuce wrapped in barely damp paper towel won't dry out. Wait to break down hard-cooked eggs, as needed. Make a boatload of dressing so you can assemble another chopped salad a few days later. You will want to, and the dressing will keep.

Toss the components with more dressing than you might use for a regular salad, and do so just before serving. Save the especially crispy bits for scattering on top.

You may never want to stand in line for assembly-line salad again.

Chipotle-Garlic Chopped Salad

For the dressing:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon pureed chipotles in adobo

2 teaspoons ketchup

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon good-quality mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, smashed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Squeeze of honey (optional)

For the salad:

11/2 pounds green leaf lettuce or green cabbage, thinly sliced

20 sweet potato tortilla chips, such as Food Should Taste Good brand

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

One 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed

11/2 cups frozen charred or roasted corn kernels, warmed through

1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes

Flesh of 1 avocado, diced

3 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the dressing: Combine the oil, pureed chipotles, ketchup, vinegar, mayo, garlic, salt and the honey, if using, in a high-powered blender or food processor; puree on HIGH for about 30 seconds, until smooth. The yield is 1 cup. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 month. Before serving, run its container under warm water to loosen up the contents, then shake to re-emulsify.

For the salad: Combine the lettuce or cabbage, tortilla chips, cheese, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, radishes and cilantro in a mixing bowl and toss to incorporate. Just before serving, add the salad dressing (shake it first to re-emulsify, as needed) and toss gently to coat evenly.

Divide the salad among individual plates. Serve right away. Makes 4 servings.

– Adapted from “Minimalist Kitchen: 100 Wholesome Recipes, Essential Tools and Efficient Techniques,” by Melissa Coleman (Oxmoor House, 2018)

Freds Chopped Chicken Salad

Order this classic East Coast chopped salad at the famed Barneys department store restaurant Freds in New York and it'll cost you $30. This recipe re-creates it with a creamy balsamic dressing and a well-balanced mix of green beans, chicken, ripe pear, onion and avocado.

For the dressing:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Low-sodium soy sauce 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

For the salad:

1 ripe pear, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 ounces salad blend

1 cup string beans, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup cherry tomatoes, each cut in half

1/2 cup minced onion

Flesh of 2 ripe avocados, cut into 1-inch chunks

31/2 cups cooked chicken, from one roast chicken

For the dressing: Combine the vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, kosher salt and pepper in a blender; puree for about 30 seconds. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil to form an emulsified dressing. Taste and add the sugar, as needed. The yield is 11/2 cups. You'll have dressing left over, which can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Shake to re-emulsify before using. Or you can cut the dressing ingredients in half.

For the salad: To blanch the green beans, boil a pot of water over high heat. Add a pinch of salt and then the beans; cook for 30 seconds, then drain and immediately transfer them to a bowl of water and ice cubes. When cool, drain and pat dry.

Sprinkle the pear with lemon juice in a mixing bowl; this will keep the fruit from turning brown. Add greens, the green beans, tomatoes, onion, avocado and half of the chicken. Add 3/4 cup of the dressing and toss to make sure everything is lightly coated, adding more dressing, as needed.

Divide the mixture among individual plates, distributing it equally. Top each portion with the rest of the chicken and serve right away, passing the remaining dressing at the table. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

– Adapted from “The Freds at Barneys New York Cookbook,” by Mark Strausman and Susan Littlefield (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018)

Jimmy's Special Chopped House Salad

This is served as a first course at the Riggsby in Washington's Carlyle Hotel, but it's certainly filling enough for brunch or lunch as well. The salad is named in honor of an alleged character named Jimmy who used to “run numbers outside the hotel” long ago, says restaurateur Michael Schlow.

For the dressing:

11/2 cups regular or low-fat mayonnaise

3/4 cup Heinz ketchup

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon Sriracha

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more as needed

1 tablespoon plus 21/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

2/3 cup minced cornichons (from 4 ounces; may substitute sweet gherkins)

2 tablespoons minced white onion

3 large eggs, hard-cooked and grated

For the cheese crisps:

2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the salad:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters

2 cups green beans, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half and then crosswise into very thin slices (preferably with a mandoline)

4 or 5 red round radishes, cut into thin slices

2 ounces mild cheddar cheese, cut into small dice

2 heads green leaf or butter lettuce, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 strips cooked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 large eggs, hard-cooked and separated into whites and yolks, then grated

20 chives, minced

For the dressing: Whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, vinegar, Sriracha, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt in a mixing bowl until well blended. Stir in the cornichons, onion and eggs. Taste, and add more salt and/or lemon juice, as needed. The yield is about 4 cups. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 month; re-stir before using.

For the cheese crisps: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Line a plate with paper towels.

Portion the cheese into 2-teaspoon piles, spacing them about 1 inch apart and pressing them down slightly. Bake (middle rack) for about 6 minutes, or until golden and melted. Let cool on the baking sheet, then transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to drain before using. The cheese crisps can be done up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container.

For the salad: Combine the tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, radishes (to taste), cheddar cheese and lettuce in a mixing bowl. Add 11/2 cups of the dressing and toss to coat. Taste, and add more of the dressing; you want the salad components to be evenly and well coated.

Divide among individual bowls or plates, then top each serving with some of the bacon, the cheese crisps (breaking them up as you go), grated egg whites and yolks. Sprinkle with the chives and serve right away. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

– From the Michael Schlow Restaurant Group