Anyone serious about clean eating should really have a go-to chopped salad recipe in their culinary repertoire. Not only are chopped salads incredibly easy to make, they are the perfect grab right-from-the-fridge snack since leftovers keep nicely for about four days.
I am crazy for chopped salads and always order them when dining out at a restaurant and although I only have two “official” chopped salad recipes on the Clean Cuisine website (the one below and the one for my Chopped Yellow Beet Salad with Avocado HERE), I make them all the time at home.
Although there are no hard and fast rules about exactly what ingredients should be used in any chopped salad recipe, the combination used in the recipe below were inspired by my dad’s recipe. My dad (Norman Ingram) is almost 88-years old and he comes from an era when men didn’t do a whole lot of cooking or “kitchen work”. However, every once in a great while dad will be inspired to putter around in the kitchen and come up with something truly sensational, such his chopped salad recipe.
The one consistency in every one of his kitchen creations is that they all have a “secret” ingredient. His salad is no exception….
The Top Secret Ingredient
The secret ingredient in dad’s chopped salad recipe is the lightly cooked garlic that goes into the dressing, which is a delightful Tangy Tahini Vinaigrette.
However, since dad doesn’t exactly know much about general cooking guidelines, he doesn’t follow any. Thus, although the amount of garlic called for in his recipe might seem obscene, I assure you it does work.
I emphasized using lightly cooked garlic because using the quantity of garlic (3 tablespoons!) called for in the Tangy Tahini Vinaigrette recipe below in raw form would be far too pungent. Of course you could always just roast your garlic in the oven, but roasted garlic will contribute a deep, rich and savory note, which is not really what you are going for with the whole Tangy Tahini concept.
So then, how do you lightly cook your garlic?
You can either lightly cook your garlic in the microwave or on the stovetop, both methods are described below in the directions.
I personally prefer to use the microwave because it is so much quicker, but inevitably anytime I suggest using a microwave I get a swarm of criticism. The critics insist that microwaved food is “radioactive”, that I have nuked out all of the nutrients or that I am putting myself at increased risk of cancer from exposure to microwaves. I don’t know who started the microwave myths or why people have become so emotional about insisting they are true, but if you go on Pub Med and read legitimate research on comparing microwave-cooked food with other traditional cooking methods and you understand the concept of “heat transfer” and how a microwave actually works— and that it is scientifically impossible for a microwave to leave “radioactive residue” on your food— then you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use a microwave. It IS however true that pretty much all cooking methods will destroy some nutrients along with enzymes in your food as well as alter the food in some manner. But microwaves don’t necessarily do any more damage to the food than any other cooking method—in fact, there is research showing microwaves can actually do less damage than some other cooking methods.
The use of a microwave is such a hot debate among natural food enthusiasts that I decided to compile the facts on microwave ovens in an article HERE.
But, for those of you who still do not want to use the microwave under any circumstance, I have included a microwave-alternative to lightly cooking the garlic in the recipe below under “Notes”.
A Kitchen Must-Have For Any Chopped Salad Recipe
If you are going to be serious about making chopped salads, then you will absolutely want to add a mezzaluna to your kitchen gadget must-haves, as this tool’s brilliant rounded blade will help you chop, chop, chop with incredibly efficiency—not to mention considerably less strain on your hands. In fact, if you do not have particularly great knife skills, using a mezzaluna will practically double your chopping time.
The first time I had ever seen this genius of a tool in action was when we were in New York City at Fresh & Co (a great place to pop in for a quick chopped salad lunch, by the way.) Fresh & Co features custom-made and incredibly fresh chopped salads to go. You simply pick out your salad ingredients from one huge salad bar and then the Fresh & Co chefs (or the “mezzaluna-choppers”) chop it to perfection in about 2 minutes time. Knowing from experience how long it would take me to chop an enormous bowl full of lettuce and vegetables with a knife, I was awe-struck by the mezzaluna-choppers at Fresh & Co.
By holding the mezzaluna’s handles, the Fresh & Co folks simply rocked the rounded blade back and forth over a large cutting surface. And unlike my experience chopping with a chef’s knife, I noticed the mezzaluna-chopped Fresh & Co salad ingredients did not get pushed off to the side of the work surface—the ingredients all stayed put well within the “chopping zone.”
After watching the mezzaluna in action I headed straight for Sur La Table on the Upper East Side to purchase one. One thing I did learn talking to the salespeople that day is that, as with any kitchen gadget, getting a superior quality mezzaluna from the start would save me both time and money in the long-run. It is also very important to make sure you get one that is big enough to actually do the job—you want one with about a 9 to 10-inch blade.
I bought the superior quality Wusthof-Trident 4736 Mezzaluna 9″ Double Knife from Sur La Table that day and have been chopping salads happily ever after ever since. But of course you can always just chop your salad with a good chef’s knife too. To learn more about the mezzaluna browse Sur La Table’s site by clicking the image ad link below:
Ok, on with the recipe…
For the salad:
- 3/4 cup finely chopped radishes
- 3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 3/4 cup finely chopped red cabbage
- 3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 3/4 cup finely chopped carrots
- 3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 cup frozen organic corn, thawed
For the vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
- 5 tablespoons tahini
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
- 3 tablespoons water
- Pink Himalayan salt, to taste (Costco’s Kirkland brand can be purchased here)
For the Salad:
- Place all of the vegetables on a large cutting board to chop them. I suggest using a mezzaluna for the chopping as this tool will make the process a lot easier–and quicker too! Once the vegetables are chopped, add them to a very large mixing bowl and gently toss. Set the salad aside.
- To make the vinaigrette, place the minced garlic and olive oil in a small, covered microwave-safe bowl; heat on high for about 1 minute, or until garlic is just barley soft (Note: Alternatively, you can pan-roast whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in a skillet over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until garlic is soft.) Transfer the garlic and olive oil to a mini food processor and add the tahini, lime juice, anchovy paste, apple cider vinegar, raw honey and water. Process until smooth and creamy. Season with salt to taste.
- Form a well in the middle of the bowl and drizzle in the Tangy Tahini Vinaigrette. Serve the salad at room temperature.
For the Vinaigrette:
- To make the vinaigrette, place the minced garlic and olive oil in a small, covered microwave-safe bowl; heat on high for about 1 minute, or until garlic is just barely soft. Transfer the garlic and olive oil to a mini food processor and add the tahini, lime juice, anchovy paste, apple cider vinegar, raw honey and water. Process until smooth and creamy. Season with salt to taste.
As long as the chopped salad is “dressed” with the vinaigrette it should keep for up to 4 days if stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.
If you do not have a microwave, you can pan-roast whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in a heavy skillet over medium heat on the stovetop for about 10 minutes, or until garlic is soft. Peel the cloves and crush the soft garlic with the back of a fork.
P.S. Do You Have a Favorite Chopped Salad Recipe? If So, Please Leave a Comment Below and tell us about it….