Sometimes I want life to be easy. Like floating in a sensory deprivation tank while the Carpenters play in the background or sliding a knife through room-temperature butter to dress the fresh bread Hugh Jackman’s just baked for me kind of easy. Sometimes I want to exert little to no effort for a final product that has everyone rushing to their Pinterest boards and/or Twitter accounts to extol my virtues in 140 characters. Or less.
Of course, real life would never let me get away with that—so the trip to the bank takes 20 minutes too long, or opening that can of tomatoes is way too hard considering our current level of technology (seriously, my kingdom and all of Hugh Jackman’s freshly-baked bread in exchange for a decent can opener). When presented with a day full of such obstacles and I’m in real need of a win, I turn to recipes like this chopped salad.
Sure, you’ll have to flex your knife skills here, but the chopping is a mindless task that you can treat as a Zen exercise. Blast some 90s hip hop or whatever your happy place might sound like and chop away. The beauty of this particular recipe is that most of the ingredients are negotiable. Use the veggies you have on hand or whatever happens to inspire you at the grocery store/farmer’s market. What isn’t negotiable in my hard-headed opinion is the use of chickpeas and salami. The latter adds a salty meatiness that makes the salad feel oh-so-indulgent, and the chickpeas hold the dressing beautifully. We don’t always do this, but if you make the vinaigrette ahead of time, you can marinate the beans and some of the other veggies for a truly flavorful salad. Other than that, go nuts—arrange it with an artistic flair, and jaws will drop as your guests rush to shovel the salad into their mouths. The amount of effort you’ve expended will surely be outpaced by the reaction you receive. And with all that time and energy you’ve saved, you can head to Ross for another substandard can opener. Or is that just me.
- 5 ounces salami, sliced into thin strips
- 1 romaine heart
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 Japanese cucumber
- 1 red bell pepper
- ½ red onion
- ½-1 cup shredded parmesan, to taste
- Before chopping ingredients, set your oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the red bell pepper on it. Drizzle with olive oil and rub the skin with salt and pepper.
- Place the pepper in the oven and watch it carefully. Turn the pepper after a few minutes. The skin will start to blister, and once slightly charred, remove it from the oven. Place the pepper immediately in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for five minutes.
- While the bell pepper rests & steams, chop the rest of the ingredients into similarly sized pieces. You want consistency of size here, so don’t go smaller than the chickpea. For some of the ingredients, like the cucumber, pieces can be a bit larger than the chickpea.
- Once the pepper has rested, take it out of the bowl and peel off the skin. Cut the pepper into thin strips, removing the core and the seeds.
- If pre-marinating some of your vegetables, place them individually in plastic bags and add a tablespoon of the dressing to the bag. Make sure they are mixed well, and refrigerate for an hour or up to 6 hours.
- When plating, arrange ingredients however you like. If you did not premarinate, drizzle the salad with the dressing.
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pour the lemon juice and zest into a bowl. Add the sugar, Dijon mustard, garlic, and shallot. Whisk these ingredients together until the sugar is fully incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. Wait until just before using to add the parsley.