Monday, October 28, 2013

Italian Chopped Salad

Today's lunch is really all I can think about, and it's pretty much all I'm going to write about. I just feel the amount of attention I give to the meal should be proportionate to the amount I loved it.

I was inspired by a few salads I've had over the years. I never realized it, but when there's an Italian chopped salad on a menu, I usually order it. Something about those flavors and textures just makes my taste buds do a little happy dance.

Last week, I picked up an Italian chopped salad from Trader Joe's. You know how they have all their pre-made salads? Those are not too shabby in a pinch. Well, this one was new to me, and it was decent but not great. They did well with the mozzarella and salami, but I thought they could have added more veggies, and I was disappointed in the mustard vinaigrette dressing (I ended up skipping it).

Today, Terry and I both got off work a little early and agreed to grab something quickly at the grocery store to eat at home. He suggested TJ's salads, which reminded me of the Italian chopped, and suddenly... It was one of those moments I assume I'll never forget. You know that feeling: You come up with a brilliant idea, practically without even trying, and suddenly you recognize your innate genius. You think to yourself, "Wow, if I can come up with brilliant thoughts like this, I must be far more valuable to the world than I originally realized."

Yes, folks. That was the moment when I had my epiphany. We would purchase the ingredients to make an Italian chopped salad at home. 

I know what you're thinking: Man, I wish I had thought of that! But rest assured: I will share the recipe with you.

And at about this point, you're likely realizing: Wait, an Italian chopped salad is just a bunch of ingredients chopped up and tossed with olive oil. And to you I say yes, yes it is. And sure, perhaps you could change one or three or all of these ingredients and still call the result by the same name, and no one would think anything of it.

But I'm choosing to ignore those facts. This salad was one of the best I've ever had, and the fact that it's simple and basically a hodgepodge shouldn't deter me from posting it or you from trying your own variation. So here you go.

Italian Chopped Salad

Serves 4, but really just 2 if you're like us and eat two bowls in one sitting
  • 2 heads Romaine lettuce, rinsed
  • one can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tomatoes (I subbed in one small package of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 jar roasted bell peppers* (set peppers on towel to dry slightly)
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb salami
  • handful sliced olives (if that's your thing--not for me)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Chop the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, bell peppers, artichokes, and salami. I enjoyed that all the pieces were around the same size (about the size of a garbanzo bean), but you can vary the sizes, too. Then toss it all together with the beans, olives, oil, and salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread.

*Note: Fresh bell peppers would also work well and would add a nice crunch, but I opted for the roasted today.

Of course, you can add or sub a variety of ingredients to make this salad even more magical, depending on your tastes. Consider:
  • ham
  • pepperoni
  • pepperoncinis
  • red onion
  • Parmesan cheese
  • varieties of olives
  • whatever tickles your fancy
And there you have it! How can you go wrong with so many delightful ingredients?

(Forgive the phone photos--our camera's on loan this week.)

This afternoon, once our salads had digested, we headed to the gym for a quick leg workout. After a 5-minute warm up, we completed three rounds of the following:

  • 20 alternating walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell squats
  • 10 dumbbell plie squats
  • 10 dumbbell one-leg deadlifts (per leg)
  • calf raises to fatigue
Plus about a two-mile walk around our neighborhood. 

It was a lovely afternoon and a nice way to get in some quality time before Terry's big trip. Now it's time to catch HIMYM and gobble down some pumpkin cookies before bedtime!

What's your favorite type of salad? I'm not normally a salad person, but I can usually get on board if there's lots of "stuff" and not a disproportionate amount of lettuce. Greek salads and Italian salads are my go-to.

And a special birthday shout out to my friend Heidi, who is expecting her first child with her awesome husband Edward in the spring! Happy birthday and congratulations, Heidi!

1 comment:

  1. I certainly do love anything Italian in my mouth, LMFAO! Oh whoops, inappropriate?! My bad! My favorite salad though, I have to say, is Salad Nicoise! So good, the combo of olives, tuna, eggs, and green beans... Oh and capers & anchovies, UGHH! So good!