The appeal of a chopped salad is that all the ingredients are cut to a uniform size and tossed together, permitting a taste of everything in each bite.
Virtually any ingredients may be used, yet most chopped salads are uninspired, laden with deli meats and cheeses and drowned in dressing. With a world of options at our disposal, we steered our salad in a Mediterranean direction, starting with escarole.
A member of the chicory family, this underutilized leafy green is loaded with vitamins and has a mild bitterness that pairs well with bold flavors. Next we added chopped cucumbers, red onion and grape tomatoes, salting them to remove excess moisture.
To make our salad hearty, instead of deli meat we incorporated nutty chickpeas. Kalamata olives added richness, and walnuts brought crunch and healthy fats. We tossed everything with a simple red wine vinaigrette to let the salad's flavors shine through.
Finally, not wanting to completely eliminate cheese from our salad, we sprinkled on 1/2 cup of briny feta to round out the flavors. Cherry tomatoes can be substituted for the grape tomatoes.
Mediterranean Chopped Salad
Servings: 6; Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
10 ounces grape tomatoes, quartered
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 head escarole (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Toss cucumber and tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt, and let drain in colander for 15 minutes.
Whisk vinegar and garlic together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil. Add drained cucumber-tomato mixture, chickpeas, olives, onion and parsley, and toss to coat. Let sit for at least 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes.
Add escarole, feta and walnuts, and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 309 calories; 202 calories from fat; 22 grams fat (4 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 11 milligrams cholesterol; 743 milligrams sodium; 21 grams carbohydrate; 7 grams fiber; 5 grams sugar; 9 grams protein.
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