“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper…”
―Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
What’s life without bacon? A dog and a beer at the ball park? Brats on the 4th of July? Just a ham sandwich for supper, for goodness’ sake? Luckily I have this guy in my life who smokes meat like he was born to it, so we can skip A Lot from the store and leave the nitrates right where they sit. But once in a while…you have to let up. Go for the gold. Grab the salami, as it were. Scratch that. Insert eye roll. And so we, every once in a while, splurge on something like salami and cheese with crackers and a cold beer or a “Chopped Salami Salad” along with a glass of rosé. No stove. No grill. Thank you very much. In the summer, I’m fond of what I label, “Shop and Chop” meals. It’s a hot day. You go to the store, buy what looks good, come home and — with no or nearly no cooking — make big with your chef’s knife and create “dinner” out of whole cloth. This is one of them.Jump to Recipe
I keep a shelf-stable stick of salami in my cupboard most of the time. I do. I know it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but I like an instant appetizer, quick sandwich, and fun omelet-filler mixed with sautéed onions and peppers. A staple for road trips, camping, cabins, beach houses, or easy picnics anywhere — yes!! Every day food? No. But occasionally, yes. I opt for the the “no-nitrate” salami and feel a little better about that, but mostly try and enjoy what I can. Well then.
The other day, we were having a second night of the Chilled Carrot-Ginger Bisque for dinner, as I had tested the recipe once more. (It tested very well; we didn’t get tired of it and I may make it yet again when friends Jim and Patti come for dinner next Friday night.) It was, for the record, 100 degrees F in Colorado Springs, very unusual. I thought a chopped salad might be a good side dish since I wasn’t turning on the stove. I had none of the leftover cooked chicken or roast pork I typically keep for sandwiches, but I did have that sweet stick of salami — which would make a lovely chopped salad, I thought. In the fridge sat a sad and solitary grilled ear of corn, fading minced green onions and basil, some leftover grilled zucchini, fresh mozzarella (a summer go-to at our house), fresh sweet bell peppers, tarragon vinaigrette, and red onions. There were campari tomatoes on the counter because God is good. In the garage refrigerator waited a plethora of eggs for boiling, great thanks to my egg lady, Rachel and her currently free-ranging hens. Nothing like hard-cooked eggs on the side to dress up a bowl and provide extra protein. (Yes, a couple things include a little cooking, but you could do eggs in your Instant Pot or buy the pre-boiled eggs at the store and use any cooked veg in place of the grilled zucchini.) Out on the deck were radishes and greens primed for the picking. I stirred it all together and we ate in the basement as even out on the eastern deck, it was sweltering and heavy hot.
The main idea of a chopped salad is to mix a variety of contrasting elements (salty, crunchy, tender/creamy, piquant, brightly-different colored, etc.) all cut into about the same size, season the bejesus out of them all, and dress them with a CAPTIAL P – PERKY dressing. If you taste the salad and it just needs something more, look toward: salt and pepper, heat (crushed red pepper, hot sauce, etc), additional salty cheese, garlic, extra Dijon-style mustard, a little more onion, a second piquant addition like olives, pepperoncini, or capers, more vinaigrette, or… most of all, and similarly, extra acid. Even with the vinaigrette, you might need an extra squeeze of lemon. Taste, add a bit, taste, add a bit, taste, eat. Don’t give up; keep trying until it’s right. That’s the crux of it. I’m big on room temperature (fresh) in the summer, but chill if you feel the need. Just make sure and refresh seasonings, olive oil, and vinegar before serving as the salad just sucks up all those things in the fridge.
How to Make An Amazing Chopped Salad at Home/EPICURIOUS
You need a great big bowl to mix salad in. Even if there’s just one (or two) of you. Fox Run 6-quart bowl. Comes in larger sizes. I have two sizes and use them both often.
If it’s warm as the scorched, grassy edges of hell at your house (and does that make heaven ice cold?), think Shop and Chop. Look around the grocery for food you can carry home and eat with little or no heat. (Vegetables, fruit, greens, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, olives, deli buys, rotisserie chicken, canned tuna/salmon/clams/crab, cooked shrimp, already boiled eggs, microwave rice/grains, fresh baguette, etc.) Marry your knife and cutting board for a few meals –ok, maybe more than a few — and skip turning on the stove or even the grill except for very briefly and only when necessary. Use your microwave, slow cooker, multi-cooker (Instant Pot), grill, or air fryer if you crave hot food. I hope you try this and that maybe it’s cool enough to eat outside:
Salami Chopped Salad
- 3 cups lettuce leaves seasoned with salt and pepper
- 4- ounces hard salami stick, cut into ½-inch dice (nitrate free, if possible)
- 8- ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced in ¼-inch coins, grilled or sautéed (seasoned with salt and pepper), then cut in half
- 1 sweet yellow orange or red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion – or to taste
- 1 plump clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium ripe tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons each minced scallions and julienne of fresh basil
- ½- cup cooked kernels of fresh corn ( 1 cooked ear of corn or ½ cup frozen corn, thawed)
- 3 small young radishes and their leaves, sliced thinly
- ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper – or to taste
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in half, for garnish (seasoned with salt and pepper)
- Tarragon Vinaigrette (Recipe below in Notes.)
- Line a large serving bowl or platter with the seasoned lettuce and set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together salami – crushed red pepper. Drizzle with tarragon vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, and vinaigrette if needed. Spoon the salami mixture into the lettuce lined bowl or platter. Garnish with seasoned eggs. Serve at room temperature or just chilled. Best the day it’s made, though you could store leftovers no more than overnight if needed.
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh French tarragon (or 1 tsp dried)
• pinch salt and pepper Let the vinegar mixture sit for a few minutes to dissolve the salt.
Last, drizzle in, whisking, until just well-combined or emulsified • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Taste and adjust seasonings. If the vinaigrette tastes a bit bitter, whisk in a ½ teaspoon honey. Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2021. All rights reserved.
If you liked this, you might also like my Mediterranean Chopped Tuna Salad:
CHANGE IT UP/THINGS TO READ:
- Swap in diced cooked chicken or sausage, grilled shrimp, roast pork, or grilled steak or roast beef for the salami.
- Use goat cheese or feta in place of the fresh mozzarella.
- Add other vegetables you have on hand. Try diced carrots, avocado (just before serving), cucumber, celery, or cooked asparagus or green beans. Don’t want to cook the zucchini? Slice it thinly and eat as is. Vinegar will soften it up.
- Make a basil or other soft herb vinaigrette instead of tarragon. I adore David Lebovitz’ Basil Vinaigrette.
- Want to keep this salad a day or two? Make more, but don’t add the tomatoes until you’re ready to serve. They don’t hold up very well in the fridge without melting around the edges and adding excess water to the dish.
- Need a larger meal? Make some pasta or microwaved rice; drizzle it with oil and vinegar while warm; season it well and then stir into the salad.
- Duped in the Deli Aisle? “No Nitrates Added” Labels Are Often Misleading/NPR
- DRINKS: chilled rosé or icy beer.
- DESSERT: Cold strawberries.
REDUCING FOOD/OTHER WASTE WITH THIS RECIPE:
- Buy stick salami instead of sliced, pre-packaged and use the rest for sandwiches or with cheese and crackers.
- How to Select, Cut, Prepare, and Store Onions/NATIONALONIONASSOCIATION
- How to Buy and Store Mozzarella Cheese like a Pro/EPICURIOUS
- Grow Your Own Lettuce (in containers)/SOUTHERNLIVING
- How to Store Any Vegetable to Keep it Fresh as Long as Possible/FOOD&WINE
Here’s another Shop and Chop: Black Bean Salad–oldie, but goodie. Drained, rinsed black beans; diced mango and avocado; grilled corn; fresh tomatoes, red onions, radishes, sweet peppers, garlic, minced jalapeño, and cilantro; lots of lime juice; salt, pepper, ground cumin, and Tajin seasoning or a little chili powder. No oil needed. Sub basil or parsley or minced green of green onions if you don’t like cilantro. Yes, it’s a lot of chopping, but hey! You’re not cooking and chopping is good exercise for the arms and mind — wink.
This time last year: SPICY CITRUS HALIBUT WITH ASPARAGUS
LIFE GOES ON:
On the advice of a local garden shop clerk, I added morning glories to our front planters. Unsure about it (they may get way too big), but I’ve staked them up for now and we’ll see. Here they are in bloom. My mom greeted me (and many others) most mornings of my life with the words, “Morning, glory!” Never stop missing her. Lately I’ve been keeping one of her letters on my desk. She always told me what she was cooking for dinner. (Spaghetti and meat sauce in the current missive.) Comforting and inspirational.
Thanks for reading and keeping me company at the cutting board!
Stay cool and eat well even in the heat,
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.