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Jan 14 2008

Chopped Salad

SaladThis one goes out to everyone who hates salad. Or who just doesn’t like it.

I’ve never been a salad fan. It’s not my sworn enemy the way broccoli is, and there have been individual salads in my life that I’ve quite enjoyed. But as a rule, I find salads tedious. A chore. Unobjectionable, but still something I eat because I feel that I should, not because I actually want to.

But I had this dish at a dinner party recently, a salad that I loved and actively enjoyed. I’d never even heard of it before this dinner, so I wanted to share it with the rest of y’all who don’t much like salads but wish you did.

It’s chopped salad.

It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a salad, with greens and stuff; but instead of the greens being in big leaves that you have to chew through like a cow, the whole thing is chopped up together into fairly fine pieces. The contents are totally green salad contents; but the vibe is more like a relish than a green salad.

Cow_female_black_whiteAnd I had this flash of realization. The reason I don’t like salads isn’t that I object to the taste of lettuce or spinach or whatever. The reason I don’t like salads is the whole “chewing through the leaves like a cow” thing. That’s what makes it feel like a chore. When the greens and the goodies are all chopped up together, you get the deliciousness, without the “chewing your cud” experience. Plus you don’t have to wade through the big chewy leaves to get to the yummy treat parts; it’s all chopped up together, and you get little bits of the whole salad in every bite. And somehow, chopping it up into smaller bits brings out the flavor of the greens in a really nice way.

Chopping_boardThe one we had at the dinner party had nuts and cheeses chopped into the greens; so I made one last night with spinach and walnuts and blue cheese (which is what we happened to have around the house). It was marvelous. And easy-shmeezy. You basically just make your salad, chop it up as finely as you want (which took about five minutes), and dress it however you normally would. (Although I’d personally stay away from gloppy creamy dressings like ranch or blue cheese, since I think that would just make it a mess. I’d stick with oil and vinegar, oil and lemon juice, things like that.)

I’m not sure how it would work with a regular salad with lots of vegetables, like tomatoes and cucumbers and stuff. Although it might work just fine. But for the sort of salad with greens and nuts and bits of cheese, it’s yummers. I am now completely sold on the whole salad issue. Kudos to Jimmy, who has opened my eyes like no-one else before to the way of the salad.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    Hipparchia

    Well, chopped is the generally accepted way to serve green salad in Bulgaria. Yet here it is getting more and more fashionable to serve salad in bigger and bigger chunks.
    The problem with chopped is that once salted, it will quickly turn into shriveled green chunks and a pool of lettuce-juice, so you have to eat it quickly. For dressing, don’t use anything heavy, even mayo may turn your salad into holy sticky horror.
    As for bigger veggies- just cut them into ordinary pieces and mix them into the salad. Chopped lettuce with radishes and topped with a quartered hardboiled egg- this is a spring classic.

  2. 2
    Peter

    “Big chewy leaves”?
    If your lettuce qualifies as “chewy” I think you need to find better lettuce.

  3. 3
    Felicia Gilljam

    You could chop up the salad as fine as you want it and add the tomatoes and cucumbers (and pepper! I love red peppers in my salad) in bite-size chunks.
    Also, vinaigrettes rule. My dad makes the most wonderful vinaigrette with oil, vinegar (not sure exactly which kind), honey (from our own beehives) and various herbs/spices… MMmmmm. Seriously, when I eat dinner at my parents’, I eat salad just so I get to drench it in that lovely vinaigrette.

  4. 4
    Felicia Gilljam

    Oh, also, Re Hipparchia: Salted? You put salt on your salad?!

  5. 5
    Hipparchia

    Actually, I’ve always taken salty salad for a given. It wouldn’t be called “Salad” (from the Latin “salata”, salty.)But that’s the way it’s done in my neck of the woods. Sometimes, the good Bulgarian housewife will chop the salad as finely as possible, salt it and then squeeze it- to make it soft. I always thought this kinda gross. However, I’ve seen people who cannot eat salad unless it has been treated in this atrocious manner.
    Anyhow, you should come to Eastern Europe. We do way more fun things with food than put salt on salad.

  6. 6
    Rebecca

    I feel like the rat in Ratatouille:
    You know what would go great with your spinach and nuts and blue cheese? Apples! Julienned apples. Yum.

  7. 7
    Greta Christina

    Mmm. Apples. That sounds wonderful. I’ll have to try that next time. And I appreciate all the suggestions for how to add in other veggies.
    And I eat wonderful lettuce, Peter. But even with tender, groovy, organic lettuce, you still have to go “chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp” to eat it. I find it tedious, and a hindrance to the experience of savoring and enjoying my food.
    And Hipparchia, I just want to tell you how thrilled it makes me to know I have readers in Bulgaria. The Interweb is truly a remarkable thing.

  8. 8
    Nurse Ingrid

    Of course salt goes in salad! Just a tiny bit, mind you, but it’s in there. Remember the French saying about how to make vinaigrette?
    “It takes four men to dress a salad: a wise man for the salt, a madman for the pepper, a miser for the vinegar, and a spendthrift for the oil.”
    OK, it’s sexist, but it works every time.

  9. 9
    David Harmon

    Cool trick! I tend to favor cooked veggies myself — just today I poached most of a 10-ounce bag of fresh spinach (i.e., bigger than my head) plus a few cloves of garlic, into a single bowlful of cooked spinach (which I ate over couscous).

  10. 10
    Hipparchia

    Thank you for the great blog, Greta. Great reads. My morning coffee now goes with Pharyngula and your blog.
    (It’s the cephalopods:)

  11. 11
    Greta Christina

    Rebecca, we tried our chopped spinach salad with apples, and it was wonderful. Thanks for the tip@ (We also mixed some lettuce into it, and it was really nice: sweetened and lightened the flavor, and added some complexity.) We didn’t know how to julienne apples, though, so we just grated one. It worked fine.

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