This recipe came to life because my husband had gone to lunch and purchased a $14 SALAD. I was shocked and couldn't believe it cost $14 for one person to eat A SALAD! The thing he could tell me about the salad was that it was delicious and everything was chopped up into small pieces. The following day I received an email from Martha Stewart (no, not personally) but it was from her FOOD magazine and it mentioned something about chopped style salads....and I figured wow, I guess I'm behind the curve...chopped salads must be ALL the RAGE! So there you have it, I had to create some kind of chopped salad that would knock my husband's socks off so that the $14 salad place couldn't compete.
Now, sometimes I don't have everything on my list, so I use what I have on hand. If you absolutely hate something I list, it's okay try it without what you don't like. BUT, I challenge you to try it WITH what you don't like because I bet you'll still love this salad. And, if you discover an ingredient you think I need to know, please share!!
So here is what I came up with:
*I generally do not measure any of this recipe, just use your judgement and put the most of the things YOU like!
- Romaine Lettuce (usually only 4-5 leaves) you don't need much b/c there is so much other deliciousness in this salad! Chopped vertically & horizontally in pieces that are no larger than 1" square.
- Cilantro (large handful, rinsed, and minced)
- Sweet Onion (Vidalia preferably, diced as tiny as you can imagine!) *In my opinion the salad must have this!
- Cucumber (I usually only use about 1/3 or a cuke)
- Strawberries (large handful, maybe 6 or so)
- Blueberries (large handful)
- Cashew nuts (maybe 1/4 cup we're just huge cashew fans, I'm sure any nut would be fine!)
- Craisins (maybe 1/4 cup)
- Feta Cheese (a generous sprinkle---1/4 cup at LEAST!)
- Olives (black, seedless, maybe 1/2 a can?)
- Corn (I tend to use 1/2 a can b/c I usually have some on hand, and I use sweet corn)
- Rice: I know this might make you raise an eyebrow, BUT, my great friend Nicole always would make the most amazing salads and she is sort of "everything but the kitchen sink" salad maker, and she would use rice wine vinegar dressing (see below) and rice. I recommend using a Jasmine Rice (yes, it makes a difference) and for my husband & I cook 1 cup of Jasmine Rice...if I have it, I will use brown Jasmine Rice or a blend of brown/white Jasmine Rice. You'll be glad you took this step!
- Meat: Now this is your choice...BUT, we ALWAYS use either Trader Joe's Soyvay or Very Teriyaki to marinate (if I pull it together) and cook the meat. If I'm short on time, I'll slice chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and cook straight in Soyvay--just another tip---if you have any meat left over (and I doubt you will) use it to make chicken salad (AMAZING!) if you don't have chicken breasts, or want to change things up use pork tenderloin. Again, slice the tenderloin into very small pieces and then cook the meat in a pan with Soyvay! Easy and soooo DELICIOUS, I promise!
- Dressing: Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Rice Wine Vinegar. I don't know exact measurements, I use a generous spin around the bowl with oil, mix it all together, and then top with an even MORE generous amount of Rice Wine Vinegar. I would say you can do a 50/50 mix, BUT I would imagine it will taste best with a 40/60 mix of oil to rice wine vinegar.
Directions to put these ingredients together:
- Prep rice using package directions.
- Start cleaning vegetables and chop into small pieces. As you go, add ingredients into a large bowl.
- Slice meat into small pieces (bite sized) and cook meat in Soyvay/Very Teriyaki.
- Top "salad" bowl with dressing (rice wine vinegar & oil)
- Plate as you prefer (I like to put salad with a well--imagine a volcano--with rice in the middle and then the meat on top. My husband likes rice on the bottom, salad, meat on top.)
- Sometimes you need an extra splash of rice wine vinegar...