When I first moved to Los Angeles many moons ago, a friend took me to a restaurant called La Scala. It's kind of an LA institution. In addition to the red leather booths and old school waiters, they're especially famous for one dish, their chopped salad. Up to that point I had never tasted anything like it. The salad I grew up eating was basic_ big pieces of iceberg lettuce, wedges of tomato and slices of cucumbers tossed in Italian WishBone Dressing. Not to say that the salad of my youth wasn't tasty, but this was a totally different experience. Crunchy Romaine lettuce, fresh turkey, ham, salami, chickpeas, olives, peppers, mozzarella and more diced into tiny bite-sized pieces and lightly tossed with a tangy vinaigrette. I was hooked.
So obsessed did I become with the idea of chopped salad using a mezzaluna, I even tried to open my own chopped salad restaurant after culinary school. The idea was that you could pick from a wide variety of farm fresh vegetables and other toppings and have them all chopped and mixed together so that every single bite you had was the best bite. I went as far as looking at potential locations but sadly, that endeavor never came to fruition. Now you can find small chains in some cities which specialize in that, but luckily making your own choped salad at home is simple. I've also found that kids adore it. Since everything is cut into tiny pieces, the salad is much easier to get in your mouth and chew, making the whole task of eating it less daunting for little ones -- and easier to digest for all of us.
This is my version of the famous La Scala chopped salad I came to love, but you should feel free to use whatever's in your fridge to make it your own. The possibilities are endless!
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Chopped Salad (serves 4 )
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce, about 1 head
- 1/2 cup chopped deli turkey
- 1/2 cup chopped salami
- 1 small tomato, diced, about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the Dijon, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
2. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.
3. Drizzle the dressing on top just before serving and toss to thoroughly coat.
* Alternatively all of the salad ingredients can be placed together on a cutting board and chopped using a mezzaluna or chef\\'s knife.