Nancy's Chopped Salad

October 22, 2019
40 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 8
Author Notes

What makes us keep coming back to this now-iconic salad from Chef Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza in L.A.? Its powerhouse dressing? Its versatility? Yes and yes—plus a few buried tricks. Salting the tomatoes ahead to make them taste riper and more tomatoey. Soaking the onion in ice water to wash away the funky aftertaste. Finishing the salad not only with salt to taste but also lemon juice. But maybe most memorably, making an oregano vinaigrette with this much dried oregano. It's not a mistake. Silverton advises, with this much oregano, to be sure to buy the good stuff from Penzey’s or another store that specializes in dried herbs. Recipe adapted slightly from The Mozza Cookbook (Knopf, 2011) and The Washington Post. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Nancy's Chopped Salad
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon), or more to taste
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, 1 smashed flat and 1 grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut in half from top to bottom
  • 1 head (22 ounces) iceberg lettuce
  • 1 head (11 ounces) radicchio
  • 1 pint small, sweet cherry tomatoes, such as Sun Golds or Sweet 100s, cut into quarters
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups no-salt-added chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 pound aged provolone, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 1/4 pound Genoa salami, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 5 pepperoncini (stems discarded), cut into thin slices (about 1/4 cup)
  • Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon), or more to taste
  • Dried oregano (preferably Sicilian oregano on the branch), for sprinkling
  2. Whisk together the vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, the smashed garlic and grated garlic and the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes (to marinate the oregano). Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, and add salt or lemon juice as needed. The yield is a generous 1 1/2 cups; you'll use up to 1/2 cup for this salad, and the remainder can be refrigerated for another use (up to 3 days).
  2. Separate the layers of the onion and stack two or three layers on top of one another, then cut them lengthwise into 1/16-inch-wide strips. Repeat with the remaining onion layers. Place the onion in a small bowl of ice water to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain the onion and pat dry with paper towels before adding to the salad.
  3. Cut the iceberg lettuce in half through the core. Remove and discard the outer leaves, and discard the core. Separate the lettuce leaves, stack two or three leaves on top of one another, then cut them lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Repeat with the remaining leaves; thinly slice the radicchio in the same way. Cut the tomatoes in half, season them with salt to taste, and toss gently.
  4. Combine the lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes, chickpeas, provolone, salami, peperoncini and onion in a large, wide bowl. Season with salt to taste, and toss to thoroughly combine. Drizzle 6 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the salad, then sprinkle with the lemon juice; toss gently to coat the salad evenly. Taste, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, plus salt and/or lemon juice as needed.
  5. Transfer the salad to a large platter or divide it among individual plates, piling it like a mountain. Sprinkle the dried oregano leaves on top and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Debra Fletcher
    Debra Fletcher
  • Hmoshman
  • Karla S Heath
    Karla S Heath
  • Megan
  • Grant Melton
    Grant Melton
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

26 Reviews

Wilsedw October 11, 2023
I’d second the suggestion in another comment to use Smitten Kitchen’s dressing recipe.

Ignore the comment about the salad taking over two hours to make. I’m not sure how on earth a simple recipe like this could take that long, but I put the whole thing together in less than half an hour, and that’s with splitting my time between making appetizers.

Another comment mentioned the salad got very soggy. To avoid that, be sure you drain EVERY ingredient well and blot them dry with a paper towel. Do not use a salad spinner, and don’t let them drip dry. I also keep the lettuces separate from the other add-ins and dressing until I’m ready to serve it. As this recipe does make a huge amount, doing it this way ensures it stays fresh and crisp enough to enjoy as leftovers for the next day or two.

Follow the above tips and you’ll have people asking you for the recipe each time you serve this salad.
Kelly4yr July 11, 2023
I know this salad is the darling of the internet but I want to speak some truths about it to save people the agony. The recipe states that it takes about 30 minutes to prepare. I'm a seasoned cook and between the dressing and the salad, it took me over two hours to make! Another issue is the waste involved. The recipe for some reason has you waste 1.5 cups of olive oil (that's a lot of expensive oil!) only to have you use 8 TB of the dressing on the salad. The recipe then states about the dressing that you end up with: "The yield is a generous 1 1/2 cups; you'll use up to 1/2 cup for this salad, and the remainder can be refrigerated for another use (up to 3 days)." Why not just reduce the amounts to make a moderate amount of dressing? Such a waste! And what else are you going to use all of that dressing on within three days? You're not going to make another salad to use it with because this recipe makes enough salad for a small army! The salad was also overly bitter to me with all of the radicchio. I'd never make this one again.
Shirley August 12, 2023
Thanks Kelly for your input. We cannot afford to waste food. Seems a proof reader would be helpful before recipes are printed. I think Nancy would agree.

Ann M. November 6, 2022
I love this salad. I add sliced turkey and increase the red wine vinegar
OrangeTang August 2, 2022
Ewww! How can you in good conscience promote a racist???
Her racist tropes of African Americans and Asians (by her own words in the LA Times) should cause you to pause before supporting her. Additionally, her cooking is just plain mediocre (yes, I’ve had her cooking). Just one more reason to avoid your business.
garrett T. October 3, 2022
Take your cancel attitude and leave the site. Please.
TerryD59 March 17, 2023
Ty, Garrett.
thriftydame June 1, 2023
Tolerance & acceptance
NXL March 14, 2022
Very good salad. I used just one cup of dressing.
EllieinArecibo September 27, 2021
I absolutely love the flavors of this salad--it's like an Italian hoagie in a salad!--but this recipe surely has a significant error in it. There's no way that one should be using 1.5 cups of olive oil for only 3.5 T (or 4.5, if you count the juice that can be added separately) of acid. When I read the recipe through I thought, I'll start with one cup and see how it tastes. But even with that ratio, I was very regretful that I didn't start with only 1/2 cup of oil and add from there if needed. Even one cup of oil completely drowns out any other flavor in the dressing. I used it anyway because I had guests arriving and was too busy cooking the main course to redo it, but I really think this has to be an error!

Also, I'll note that I tried to make this about an hour and a half ahead of time and it was so soggy, which even further diluted what should've been a salad with nice, punchy flavors throughout. I combined the lettuces, tomatoes (drained, no less), and onion ahead of time and that mixture alone was so soggy within about 5 minutes of tossing them together. I don't have anything against iceberg overall but would recommend something hardier for this instead--maybe romaine or even finely chopped and massaged kale. Sadly, this salad felt like a fair amount of effort with great individual ingredients for a bland and soggy final result. With some tweaks I think it could be amazing.
phalagen April 24, 2022
I agree. The ratio is off. I looked the salad/dressing up on the Smitten Kitchen website and here's what it said:

4 cloves garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons dried oregano (Nancy recommends 2; I got nervous and used 1, but might not have minded more)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, ideally extra-virgin
Cie May 4, 2023
The recipe only calls for you to use 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and to reserve the rest for another time.
EllieinArecibo May 4, 2023
I'm not sure you read these comments carefully--the issue is not with the total amount of vinaigrette that one puts on the salad, it is with the RATIO of oil/vinegar that the original recipe calls for, which appears to be significantly off. Phalagen's comment seems to have a recipe with an O/V ratio that would yield a much better result.

Separately, my comment was noting that the choice of lettuce specified in the recipe--iceberg--can result in a soggy salad unless you eat the salad immediately after you put it together.
Debra F. March 18, 2021

I will try it if you can pry me away from this one. But I will try this one and I will share the one I have. I hope that’s OK
Hmoshman January 8, 2021
I did not find soaking the finely sliced onion in ice water to be enough to reduce the pungent taste. I prefer to macerate in vinegar--much better. Then add that vinegar instead of the lemon juice. Omitted chickpeas. Used red cabbage instead of radicchio. Good. Will make again.
Hmoshman January 8, 2021
Also, I don't eat iceberg lettuce so used crunchy romaine.
Karla S. October 29, 2020
Love this! I have always called it my Big Italian Salad. Never thought to add ChiChi beans! YUM
Regine October 22, 2020
Did anyone try to veganize this?
Melanie M. October 30, 2021
I have. I add vegan seitan pepperoni and buffalo mozzarella I make homemade. Heaven!
Judi December 31, 2019
This isn't for me. I dislike both radicchio and iceberg lettuce but went ahead and made it anyway. Husband liked it. I didn't care for it at all and thought it was a lot of effort.
Megan November 30, 2019
This was a great salad to have for a big lasagna dinner. So good!
Angelag83 November 3, 2019 food 52
Angelag83 November 3, 2019
Absolutely wonderful! I waited till I had a crowd large enough to polish it’s a lot of salad. Rustic and perfect EXACTLY like per the recipe. I would not change a single thing. Thank you!
Stacey November 1, 2019
I made this last night for a large group (doubled the recipe) and it was the hit of the party! We ended up with fewer guests so I had a full bowl extra and can't tell you how happy I am to have extra! Everything about this works - the flavors are the perfect match for each other - nothing stands out in particular (which is a good thing in my opinion) but it all works together beautifully.
Grant M. October 26, 2019
I'm absolutely obsessed with this salad. Changing anything about would be blasphemous. IT'S PERFECT. Do yourself a favor and make this salad tonight. You'll be so glad you did.
Kristen M. October 28, 2019
Thanks so much, Grant—glad to know you love it, too!