My dad and I share a love of good salad. I often playfully rib him, because he still seems to prefer buying good ol’ classic iceberg lettuce to the greener and (slightly) more nutritious and flavorful romaine that I like when crisp leaves are in order, but that’s my daddy-o. As long as there are fresh greens tossed together with other little bits of yummy goodies and a nice, flavorful zesty dressing to drizzle in, we’re a pair of happy campers.
Quite a few years back when my parents would come to visit me in Los Angeles from Michigan, we would make a fun day of going to the Santa Monica pier and to the beach, then afterwards, stop for a bite at an Italian eatery on Third Street Promenade for a family meal out. It was so comforting to me. We always made it a point to get our favorite, a hearty Italian Chopped Salad, to share as an appetizer. It had so many tasty morsels in it -lots of cheese and savory dry salami, and vegetables with crunchy textures, all dressed in tangy, Italian-style vinaigrette. Each ingredient was diced up nice and small, which for some reason made it that much more delicious and fun to eat. Oh, how we enjoyed grazing on it, and catching up as a family.
When dad and I visit with each other these days, I always look forward to being able to share my homemade, love-filled rendition of an Italian Chopped salad with him at some point, and to talk and laugh a little. It gives me a lot of pleasure and joy to make a little something tasty and healthy for my parents, to extend back to them at least a tiny sliver of the nurture they’ve always provided me with.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Italian Chopped Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Salami In Herbed Red Wine Vinaigrette with Garlic Toast Wedge
4 romaine hearts, halved and chopped into small dice
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped into small dice
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped into small dice
½ red onion, chopped into small dice
⅓ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped into small dice
8 ounce ball fresh, all natural mozzarella cheese, chopped into small dice
4 ounces (about ¼ pound) Italian dry salami, chopped into small dice
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 slices French bread or other rustic bread
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, papery skin removed and halved
• Pinch salt/pepper
-Combine the romaine hearts through the parsley in a large bowl and set aside in fridge while Garlic Toast wedges and the vinaigrette are made.
-Make Garlic Toast wedges by toasting the slices of bread until golden brown; once toasted, drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil onto each slice, and rub the garlic clove half liberally over both slices; sprinkle with a pinch of salt/pepper, and cut the toast on the bias to make four wedges total; set aside as the salad garnish.
Herbed Red Wine Vinaigrette ingredients:
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
• Pinch ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
-In a medium bowl, add all ingredients through sugar, and whisk to combine; next begin slowly adding the oil, whisking until vinaigrette is emulsified.
-Pour the vinaigrette over the chopped salad greens and thoroughly toss to coat; check and adjust the salt/pepper, if necessary, and divide the salad equally among 4 plates; garnish each with a Garlic Toast wedge.