My own version of a classic chopped salad I love to order at one of my local Italian restaurants. You can add or remove ingredients every time you make this salad giving you a world of flavor profiles in all seasons —cucina di mammina
appro. 2 to 4
small head of romaine lettuce, leaves washed and dried
head of iceberg lettuce, washed and dried
3 to 4
handfuls of fresh baby arugula, washed and dried
small head of radicchio
small head of boston bibb lettuce, washed and dried
large english cucumber, washed and trimmed of some of the peel
small or 1/2 medium spanish red onion (sliced thinly on a mandoline), to taste
small head of fresh fennel (sliced thinly on a mandoline)
can of pitted black and/or green olives, drained
large ripe beefsteak tomato or 3-4 small ripe plum tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
sea salt to taste, black pepper to taste
homemade or good quality store-bought red wine vinegar, to taste
dash of good quality anchovy paste (to taste, if desired)
feta cheese, crumbled (or healthy dose of shaved slices of parmigiano cheese or caciocavallo cheese)
additional salad item options (if desired):
hard-boiled egg (chopped)
crispy bacon (chopped)
marinated artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
oven-roasted mushroom variety (chopped)
baby red & white creamier potatoes (boiled & chopped)
homemade rustic bread herb croutons (seasoned and toasted)
Using a cutting board, take each of the lettuce varieties and once the leaves are dried well, chop them into small bite size pieces. Place the chopped leaves into a very large deep bowl.
Once all the varieties of lettuce are chopped and in the bowl, begin to chop the cucumber, celery and tomatoes in the same fashion. Keep your chop size as uniform as possible.
Add these next three ingredients to the bowl. Take some of the thinly sliced fennel (set some aside for placing on top of the salad) and as much of the thinly sliced red onion slices (to your taste) and chop into smaller pieces and add to the bowl.
Lastly, take the heart of palm stalks and slice into thin rounds (add as much as you wish here), chop your pitted olives into small pieces and then add both of these ingredients to the bowl.
Carefully using your hands gently mix the ingredients in the bowl until well blended. At this point you can add any more items you wish (see list above or be creative and add your own favorite salad items.) Very gently using your hands blend well.
Set aside in the refrigerator until about 15 minutes before serving. To dress this beautiful insalata, start with a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good amount of red wine vinegar (stronger the vinegar, the less you need here so taste the vinegar and adjust accordingly.)
Season with sea salt and using large mixing spoons, gently mix the insalata until the dressing has coated every bit and piece. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed adding more of what is missing.
If using anchovy paste which we love in our insalata, take a small squeeze of the anchovy paste and blend it with some olive oil (beat with a fork until creamy), this allows the paste to spread it’s flavor evenly throughout the insalata when added to the mix. Blend well after the addition and adjust for final taste.
Place the dressed insalata on a large flat serving platter or large deep bowl and lay the remaining fresh fennel slices across the top. top with the crumbled feta cheese or shaved slices of parmigiano cheese or caciocavallo cheese.
Serve immediately with some homemade herb-seasoned croutons on the side and enjoy!