Friday, April 04, 2014

Food on Friday: Chopped Salad

I like vegetables. Some of them, anyway. Carrots, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, corn. Okra, if it's fried. Spinach in salads. But not all vegetables. In spite of all the different ways I've tried them, I still have never found a brussel sprout recipe I'd make again (and yes, that includes several that say "even haters love them cooked this way"). And I'm still learning to like greens. Kale is growing on me.

But I've known since I was teenager that for the most part, I'd rather eat veggies raw than cooked. In fact, other than okra and green beans, all of the veggies I said I liked in the previous paragraph I prefer raw. So when I happened to pick up a serving-sized container of "chopped salad" at a Whole Foods store a couple of years ago, it occurred to me that maybe that's the way I should eat vegetables.

Chopped salad has become a staple around here, any time I remember to stock up on the right stuff and have the time to do all the chopping. Honestly, it doesn't really take that long--I just made one and it took about twenty minutes. It isn't so much a recipe as a method, but here you go anyway.

Chopped Salad

Choose six or eight of the following:
Any firm, choppable veggie: zucchini, crookneck squash, broccoli, carrots, jicama, celery, cucumber, asparagus, bell peppers, etc.
(corn can be fresh, or drained canned, or frozen--which you don't have to thaw, just throw it in and 10 minutes later it is fine)
Greens: spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, collards, etc., and any type of lettuce or cabbage
Tomatoes, any type or color (grape, cherry, plum, regular)
Fresh fruit: apples, pears
Dried fruit: cranberries, apricots, cherries, blueberries, raisins
Beans: black, pinto, garbanzo, or black-eyed peas
Herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro
Nuts/seeds: pumpkin, sesame, pecans, walnuts, almonds, peanuts
(you can also start with a bagged chopped salad and add to it)
(also you could add cooked diced meat, cheese, hard boiled eggs, tuna--but I usually just do veggies)
(I think onions are too strong for this, but if you like raw onions, add them, too)

The key is to chop every thing somewhere between 1/4" and 1/2" in size. Broccoli and kale pretty much disappear if you chop them small enough. If you have a good sharp knife, it goes pretty fast. Dump all the chopped vegetables in a bowl, then add your favorite salad dressing (or olive oil and a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar). Salt and pepper to taste.

Here is the one I made this week. It has carrots, zucchini, kale, asparagus, a bag of "southwestern chopped salad" (which included a pouch of sunflower seeds and cranberries), a can of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, and about a dozen halved grape tomatoes that I had leftover from earlier in the week. Kinda pretty, isn't it?

(Mom brag: note chopping board MadMax made in woodshop last week!)

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