Lately I have heard many people talking about the unseasonably hot weather we have been having, and their accompanying lack of desire to get any hotter, i.e., slaving over a hot stove. Appetites can also suffer during the heat, and heavy food just doesn’t do it for me. This also poses a problem when you have been asked to “bring a salad” to a family picnic or other such event. Here’s an idea: How about whipping up a chopped salad? Ingredients can really be what you can scrounge out of your garden, what you have in the refrigerator that might be lurking from your latest trip to the Farmer’s Market. The one I’m about to show you is a big one – you may know by now that’s just the way I cook. Use as much or as little of these ingredients as possible, or pick some others. I’m not proud – this is just to get you thinking. No recipe required – we are not in the mood to follow a recipe in this heat. It would just annoy us further.
Practicing what I’m preaching, let’s see what’s in the fridge…Definitely some possibilities.
Let’s start with a base of chopped red cabbage, since lettuce can big a big old wilter when it’s sweltering outside.
Radishes halved or quartered – let’s cut down on as much slicing work as we can.
The last of the Sugar Snap Peas…cut in half so you can see all the pretty pea parts.
Raw beets are awesome in case you haven’t tried them. These yellow guys are super sweet but can be a little bit finicky and need to be used within a day or two, or will discolor. They keep pretty well submerged in cold water if you need to keep them for a day before you put your salad together.
And my new friend, Kohlrabi. Love this guy peeled and matchsticked also.
Let’s get crazy and curl up some carrots.. I use a Spiralizer just because I am a kitchen gadget hoarder. You can also buy little hand held gizmos that will do the same thing, or if you’d rather not, how about grating the carrot? Your jaws will thank you due to the large amount of chomping required for this salad.
Ready to go – let’s lay down the cabbage base coat..
Now to round up all the other ingredients and get them within reach so we can start to assemble..
Lay things down any way you want. I like to start with scallions..
One by one, everybody else is joining the party!
I like to end it with some fancy confetti. Grated carrot would be excellent also by the way – lightly sprinkled around the edges of the platter perhaps?
Let’s not forget the dried fruit – this monster has both dried slivered apricots and dried tart cherries. This gives a nice textural break from all that crunching.
And there you have it. The ultimate chopped salad. This feeds a crowd, so works particularly well for potlucks and other such gatherings. I made the salad shown above for a big outdoor party in 95 degree heat. It stayed fresh looking for nearly 3 hours. If yours starts to look a little droopy, you can always spritz it with some cool water from time to time. For dressings, I usually will put out both a vinaigrette and a bleu cheese or other creamy dressing. I like to give our guests as much freedom of choice as possible when it comes to edible things, and I find that most people are firmly entrenched in either the vinaigrette or creamy dressing camp. You might also want to put out a big bowl of bleu, feta, or goat cheese. This guy can benefit from the introduction of some creamy texture. Your choice – you are in charge. Enjoy!!
PS: If you are like me, you will always make a little more than you need so you have some for yourself for supper the next night.
PPSS: This would also be good with some grilled chicken on top, and while you’re at it, how about throwing some nice artisan bread slathered in garlic butter on the grill as well. You will make noises, I promise!
Happy salad days!! xoxoxo