Nickel & Dine

A Wallet-Friendly Way to Stretch Any Salad

Obviously you know about croutons, so why not chips?

August 19, 2021
Photo by MJ KROEGER

I try not to be the kind of person who tells you a dish you’ve made is missing something. But also, that big salad you’re about to dive into definitely needs pita chips. Let’s back up: When it comes to summer dinners—whether I’m having people over or it’s just me—come dinnertime, I gravitate towards simple meals that show off summer produce. I’m talking toasts, cold noodles, dips, salads. And when I go salad, there’s only one non-negotiable part: adding chips. Pita chips, specifically.

I understand there might be skeptics about this addition, but hear me out. Obviously you know about croutons in salad. And perhaps you’re familiar with Tuscan panzanella, stale torn bread and tomatoes soaked in oil and vinegar; or fattoush, the Levantine salad of greens, vegetables, and toasted or fried flatbread—this crispy-carb-tossed-in-tangy-dressing is the vibe we’re going for. Like croutons, pita chips add a welcome crunch to salad, but their flat shape also makes them something of a scooping device, excellent for making sure every last bite of cucumber or feta gets into your mouth, not left clinging to the side of the bowl.

I’d be remiss not to mention that while produce is an important part of any salad, pita chips add heft to your meal in a way a bowl of vegetables simply cannot—if you’ve ever gone to bed hungry after eating salad for dinner, this is probably why. Since my goal with recipes is to spend less, legumes are a natural solution for bulking it up, and while I do include chickpeas in my Pita Chip Dinner Salad, a tender bean offers no exciting crunch. Toasted nuts then come to mind, but it remains a fact that nuts are wildly pricey. Case in point: chips.

Photo by MJ KROEGER PROP STYLIST: SUZIE MYERS FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG

Now, you can head to the store, buy a bag of pita chips, and go hog wild, but here’s a secret: Not only is making your own pita chips incredibly simple, they arguably taste better and are significantly cheaper than the packaged version. All you have to do is rip up a pita (or three, as is the case with this recipe) into bite-sized pieces, douse them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 350ºF for about 15 minutes. Presto! (I must note that you can—and should—do the same thing with torn bread for make-your-own croutons, if you aren’t already.)

Of course, once you’ve actually done the deed, the countdown to sogginess officially begins. There is a sweet spot that bread salads occupy, where the carb has just started to absorb the dressing, but hasn’t become so leaden with liquid that it turns to mush, and that’s between 10 and 20 minutes after dressing. So be sure to wait before tossing the chips into your salad until it’s just dinnertime.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Even more cost-effective to just save scrums of whatever chips/bread you have and use it as a salad topping. Or crispy or toasted rice.”
— M
Comment

Feel free to get busy with pita chips in any salad you like (Caesar! Wedge! Niçoise!) but allow me to suggest starting with this peach and plum-based number, because no one knows how to show off like a piece of stone fruit in late August.

What kind of chips do you like in salad? Sound off in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. These days, you can keep your eye out for her monthly budget recipe column, Nickel & Dine. Rebecca tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.

2 Comments

Lwitteman August 19, 2021
I am very much on board. A handful of crushed Stacy’s Pita Chips has been a favorite salad addition at my house for a very long time.
 
M August 19, 2021
Even more cost-effective to just save scrums of whatever chips/bread you have and use it as a salad topping.

Or crispy or toasted rice.