Well before I started my Health Coaching practice and long before I started writing this food blog, I was known as the chopped salad queen. Seriously, anytime I was invited to a dinner party, a BBQ, a GNO, a potluck, (you name it), I was always asked to bring a chopped salad. It was my signature dish. I suppose my friends saw my passion for sharing healthy food with others before I realized it was my calling.
I think the key to a good chopped salad is that the veggies are chopped. Sounds like a given, but I’ve ordered chopped salad at many a restaurant and had to go in there with my knife to be able to respectfully eat some of the pieces. I like to have a bit of everything in each bite. Don’t you?
The beauty here is that it doesn’t matter which veggies you choose to chop into your salad. Make sure there are plenty that will add crunch. That’s my favorite part about this salad. Nice and crunchy. Also, feel free to use whatever herbs you like most. Ordinarily I’d chop parsley, or mint….but, in these photos you’ll see basil that was stacked and julienne sliced because I just couldn’t resist the fresh basil growing in my garden. The aroma was intoxicating on my way to the mint. Don’t forget color…..it’s important, not just for looks, but for nutrients as well. Eat the rainbow and you’ll get a diverse dose of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Let’s review: CRUNCH, FLAVOR, and COLOR are crucial to a good chopped salad. Make sure you’ve chosen herbs and veggies that will help achieve those goals.
Next to that, the other thing that differentiates one chopped salad from the next is the dressing. Sometimes, I’ll whisk up a super simple dressing for my chopped salad, like the one in this shaved asparagus salad. When I have a few extra minutes though, I will always opt for this dressing. It doesn’t really take much time, and even though it’s super healthy, it feels a bit indulgent. This dressing is incredibly creamy, yet it’s hard to believe the ingredient list is so clean.
Eat the rainbow!
Another thing I like about this dressing is that the cannellini beans do more than just thicken it up. Cannellini beans are high in fiber which is vital to the prevention of diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Additionally, the antioxidants in cannellini beans play a role in protecting skin from sun damage, and in decreasing the risk for heart disease and cancer. Bonus: adding beans + hemp seeds to the dressing also increases the protein content of the salad. When you add those benefits to the plethora of goodness in all of the veggies you’ve chopped into this salad, you can see why I call this the Ultimate Chopped Salad. Bennies galore!
I still make chopped salad often—I find it to be the ideal way to clean out my crisper drawer, take stock of what’s in my fridge and figure out what else I need to buy—-and it’s still heavily requested by friends and family, but as my culinary skills and creativity in the kitchen has grown, chopped salad has become more of a staple than a vibrant accessory!
Feel free to own this salad. Make it YOURS by adding in your favorites. Maybe some nuts or seeds, change up the veggies, or add some animal protein of your choice if it suits you. My ingredient list is a good starting point, but you don’t have to stop there!! Just be sure that you’re not adding in a lot of unnecessary calories, fat, or salt.