My introduction to the chopped salad was not a conventional one. I remember finally understanding the genius of this hodgepodge of meats, crunchy lettuces, cheeses and assorted salty garnishes while dining last summer at a favorite local restaurant. It was not a demure collection of perfectly diced cucumbers and mealy tomatoes; it was a robust salad of spicy charcuterie, sharp cheeses, hot peppers and bold salad greens. I was sold.
Then I had the chopped salad that changed my life at San Francisco’s Bar Tartine: a dazzlingly flavored mash-up of dill, halloumi cheese, paprika salami, sunflower seeds and a generous dollop of yogurt. The sweet paprika, yogurt and dill add a layer of complexity and depth. The salty feta, olives and meats play nicely off the taming effects of sunflower seeds and chickpeas and the crisp greens balance everything. If the word hearty has a place in the breezy outdoor dining of the coming months, this is it.
Yield: 6 servings
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 cups chopped radicchio
15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
4 ounces assorted cured meat, sliced (such as mortadella, salami, pastrami, prosciutto)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh dill
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons strained, Greek yogurt
1.5 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Feta cheese, crumbled
Handful of olives, chopped
Marinated piquillo peppers, thinly sliced
First, prepare the dressing. With a fork, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, yogurt, paprika and salt. Add cracked black pepper to taste.
Next, compose the salad. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss the romaine lettuce, radicchio, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, assorted meats and dill with the dressing.
Divide salad evenly among bowls and top with feta, olives and piquillo peppers, or serve family style with the garnishes in separate bowls on the side. Best served immediately.
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.