How to Make Chopped Salad

Toss your old ideas about mixed greens. In his American Classics series, chef Scott Peacock shows you how to build a new style of salad from the dressing up.

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Classic Chopped Salad
Classic Chopped Salad

    The ideal chopped salad is a blend of the freshest, most colorful ingredients the produce aisle or farmer's market has to offer. See the following slides for the recipe and step-by-step instructions for getting it right.

chop garlic

    Peel garlic, split lengthwise, and remove any green germ or interior sprout. "Otherwise you can get a sour flavor," says Scott. Finely chop the garlic with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. "The salt absorbs the oils released from the garlic and helps with the next step." Hold knife with blade facing away from you; repeatedly rub garlic and salt together with flat of the blade to work it into a fine paste.

add a squeeze of lemon

    Transfer mashed garlic to a small bowl. Squeeze lemon over garlic, catching seeds with your fingers. Stir in an additional sprinkling of salt. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes so lemon can tame the garlic. "Raw garlic can cause indigestion," Scott says.

finish with creme fraiche

    Whisk in crème fraîche and season with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. To give flavors time to develop, refrigerate for one hour. The dressing keeps in the refrigerator for up to three days.

dry washed lettuce carefully

    After washing lettuce gently in a large bowl or well-scrubbed kitchen sink, allow it to drain well. Lettuce needs to be crisp and thoroughly dry or the dressing won't coat properly, so arrange leaves in a single layer on clean, absorbent kitchen towels or paper towels. Cover with a second clean towel, then gently roll up jelly-roll-style. Slide into a large plastic bag and refrigerate.

chop lettuce

    Just before using the lettuce, cut it into bite-size pieces.

Prep Avocado

    For best-looking avocado do not scoop flesh from skin. Instead, remove skin from the avocado by gently peeling it away in strips.

Prep Beans and Corn

    "Pick the freshest, best-looking produce at your market and you can't go wrong," says Scott. Cook corn and green beans in a large amount of rapidly boiling, lightly salted water for one to three minutes. Drain, and submerge in lightly salted ice water to stop the cooking. Drain, and spread on kitchen towels or paper towels. "If the vegetables are wet, you'll get a milky salad."

Combine Vegetables and Dressing

    In a very large salad bowl combine corn, beans, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and half the chives. Add two or three spoonfuls of dressing and toss gently, then sample. "It's important to taste the dressed vegetables so they have the right amount of salt, pepper, and chives before adding the lettuce," says Scott.

Toss with Dressing

    Once vegetables are coated, add lettuce to the bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and most of the remaining chives. "Chives and the proper seasoning really make the salad sing," Scott says. Add an additional drizzle of dressing. Gather vegetables from bottom of the bowl and lift up and over the lettuce. Repeat until ingredients are just mixed, adding additional dressing as necessary to coat.

Add the Finishing Touches

    Just before serving, add the avocado and bacon. "Adding avocado too soon turns it into guacamole," says Scott. Top servings with additional chives.

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