Turn chopped salad into a Mediterranean meal

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

Summer has officially arrived. It’s time to put the oven on hiatus and make use of the cornucopia of summer vegetables.

Salads are often thought of as a side dish, but with the right choice of ingredients they can make a satisfying summer meal.

Popular in restaurants and salad bars, chopped salads are a great way to beat the summer heat. Part of their appeal is their portability and ease of eating. With all the ingredients chopped to a uniform size and pre-tossed with dressing, they require no knife. All the flavors of the salad are experienced in each bite.

Chopped salads are an opportunity to express your creativity. The only real requirement is that the ingredients be fresh. Save any sketchy produce for the stock pot.

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The best chopped salads have a variety of textures and a rainbow of colors. Below is my version of a Mediterranean chopped salad. The addition of cheese and chickpeas add protein to make it the perfect no-cook meal. The capers and olives lend a briny taste to complement the other ingredients.

If you don’t have croutons, you can make your own. Cut up a couple of slices of stale bread or rolls into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with a little olive oil, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through the baking time.

A good chopped salad has a mix of colors, textures and flavors. In the heat of summer, a simple Mediterranean chopped salad can stand in for a meal.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

  • 1 romaine heart, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 radishes, diced
  • 1/2 cup black or green olives, roughly chopped (I like Kalamata olives)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut in ½ inch pieces
  • Handful of fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, mint or parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping cup croutons
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup diced or crumbled feta cheese

For the dressing

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, capers, shallots, mustard, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, olives, carrot and pepper. Add enough dressing to coat, and toss well. Top with the herbs, croutons, avocado and feta. Toss lightly and serve.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.