A good ol’ chopped salad
I’ve always loved a good antipasto salad, but it definitely came back on my radar last month after tasting a delicious version at one of my favorite restaurants here in San Francisco, Cotogna. Listed toward the bottom of the menu as simply “Cotogna chopped salad,” I almost didn’t order it. Why bother when you should be saving room for the seasonal sformato or the ricotta ravioli served with a farm egg and brown butter? Luckily, my good sense kicked in and I went for it. I can’t say I’m a total angel, as their version does come with some super savory salami, but what really got me was their dressing. Tart, tangy, flavorful, light… delicious. I asked them what the secret was to such a dressing and they said it was really good red wine vinegar. Ok… that’s a start! I tucked that info away into some food obsessed corner of my brain (which is all of them) and blissfully finished my salad.
Cut to this month which has been nothing short of debaucherous. With loads of holiday cookie exchanges, lunches and dinner parties, including an annual pig-out at The French Laundry, I decided it was especially important to establish a healthy baseline to come back to as often as possible. For me that baseline is what makes me feel my best and it’s what I present here on this blog: plant based, dairy-free and gluten-free deliciousness. That’s where this chopped salad comes in. It packs a ton of flavor, but does it without the salami and mozzarella that typically season this salad.
One thing I immediately needed to source was some really good red wine vinegar. I’m not sure where Cotogna get theirs, but I immediately thought of March, an incredible store here in San Francisco that stocks the most amazing pantry goods and house wears. While I was at it, I decided that my oil needed to be just as good as my vinegar, so I grabbed some of the delicious extra virgin olive oil that they have exclusively made for them by Katz. With ingredients of this quality I could have kept it at a super simple oil and vinegar dressing, but I wanted even more flavor so I decided to emulsify my concoction with some dijon mustard and added some additional delicious components. I also added toasted pine nuts to the salad to help make up for the heft that is lost when you cut out the salami and cheese. While it does take a bit of time, finely chopping, dicing and mincing the ingredients is well worth it as this salad tastes best when you get a bit of everything in every bite.
A good ol’ chopped salad recipe
Makes 2 large salads
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 head romaine, finely chopped, about 4 cups
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup minced kalamata olives
2 tablespoons minced peperoncini
Preheat oven to 300. Place pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring at the halfway point. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
chopped salad dressing recipe
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients into small food processor and blitz until well combined.
Add dressing into large bowl with salad ingredients and toss well to coat.