My guide to making the BEST Chopped Salad – easy yet impressive, with SO MANY possibilities and enhancements. Find your new go-to side salad.
The BEST Chopped Salad
What is a chopped salad? Pretty simply, it is a salad made up of chopped vegetables. Instead of layered slices, chop your salad vegetables into nice bite-sized chunks and toss everything together.
I find chopped salads much more enjoyable to eat than regular salads – something about the crunch and texture and the pleasant uniformity. It’s basically like eating salsa, which definitely has good connotations for me!
Not a Salad Person?
If you don’t like conventional salads, I urge you to give the chopped salad a shot! I used to avoid salads like the plague before. I could never understand why anyone would want a side salad with dinner. Now, I make some version of this chopped salad regularly, as a side or even as the main event!
What goes in a basic Chopped Salad?
Chopped vegetables – pretty much anything goes! I’m sharing my typical go-to recipe for you. This is a staple salad on our dinner table, it goes with most dishes and can be customised a hundred different ways. Try it out with the basics then customise as you choose. I’ve listed some enhancements and recommendations below.
Lend themselves so well in chopped salads – fresh and juicy, their liquid adds to the dressing and really helps bring everything together. I love using cherry or grape tomatoes, but pretty much any type works well.
Crunchy and flavourful – it goes SO well with sweet tomatoes. If you find the taste of onions a bit too strong, you can soak the sliced onion in ice water for 10 minutes before adding to your recipe. This will take the bite out of them.
One of my favourites. Peppery with a nice crispy crunch, I just love adding radish to almost any salad. I find they compliment most salad ingredients.
A classic. So crisp and refreshing, they go well in just about any salad.
What else can I add?
- Peppers are great.
- I love to add pickled jalapeños or cornichons for some vinegary tang.
- Peas or edamame beans.
- Shredded carrot or cabbage – both add great crunch and sweetness. Red cabbage is one of my particular faves.
- Sweetcorn, either canned or fresh
- Pitted Olives
- Diced Avocado (though this will limit the shelf-life of your salad as Avocados brown so quickly – try adding them in just as you’re ready to serve if making ahead.)
- Sweet Potato or Butternut Squash, cut into chunks, lightly seasoned and roasted.
How do you dress a chopped salad?
Keep it simple with a combination of 4 ingredients – Oil, Acid, Salt and Herbs. No need to whisk together a fancy vinaigrette. I’ve included my go-to recipe below in the recipe card, but feel free to mix it up to your tastes. Use my recipe as a guide for quantity to start off, and eventually, you’ll find your own go-to!
You can add the dressing ingredients to the bowl first, stir together then add the vegetables on top. However, I prefer to just dump everything in a bowl as I go. I leave the salt till last and add a little at a time until it tastes perfect.
Extra virgin olive oil is my usual. You could substitute with avocado or a high-quality rapeseed (canola) oil.
Lemon or lime juice or vinegar – white wine, sherry, apple cider or balsamic. Lemon juice is the most superior here, in my opinion.
Flaky sea salt like Maldon* is best, but regular kosher salt also works. Add it to taste – I usually start with ¼ tsp and go from there.
I’m using parsley here. Try basil, dill, coriander, mint, oregano or a mixture. Fresh is best, but dried will work – just halve the quantity.
I recommend keeping a supply of your most-used herbs in the freezer for emergencies. Most supermarkets sell pre-chopped frozen packs of the most widely used chopped herbs. Better yet, get your green fingers out and grow your own herbs so you have a fresh supply at your fingertips.
Chopped Salad Enhancements
- Add beans or chickpeas – most beans will work. Cannellini beans are great with Mediterranean flavours. Chickpeas work well with a Middle Eastern twist. And black beans are great if you add in some sweetcorn and jalapenos and give it a Tex Mex-makeover.
- Lettuce leaves – serve your chopped salad over some diced lettuce or salad leaves to make it feel like a ‘proper’ salad.
- CHEESE! What dish is not improved by cheese? Feta, mozzarella, goats cheese, even shredded cheddar, can all work in the right combo.
- Sumac – A ground spice made from dried berries. It adds a citrusy twist like lemon or lime zest and is an EXCELLENT addition to pretty much any chopped salad.
- Seeds – sesame, poppy or pumpkin seeds add great crunch and texture.
- BACON! Bite-sized pieces of crispy grilled bacon is A DREAM in pretty much any salad.
- Fruits – Berries are best – strawberries and blueberries in particular. But peaches or apples, even pear can be great.
- Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, pine nuts. Go crazy for that delicious crunch.
- Chilli – Like a bit of spice? Add some diced chilli to suit your tastes.
- Couscous, Bulgur Wheat, Quinoa or Pasta – add a little substance to your salad. Also great for an easy to transport lunch.
Assemble Your Salad
As a general rule, I like to go for between 3-6 different chopped vegetables. Mix these with your chosen combination of the 4 dressing ingredients. Add an enhancement, if you wish, or feel free to keep it simple!
To make 4 side portions or 2 main courses you will need –
- about 600 grams (21 ounces) of chopped vegetables
- 2 Tablespoons of your chosen Oil
- 2 Tablespoons of your chosen Acid
- 2-3 Tablespoons of fresh herbs
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
How to store chopped salad
Most chopped salads will keep well covered in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Some, especially if they contain tomatoes and onions, age into an almost salsa-like dish. I LOVE using leftover chopped salad in a wrap or sandwich the next day. Or even with some tortilla chips as a healthy and delicious dip!
What to serve with chopped salad
Whatever you want! Chopped salads make a great vehicle for any grilled meat or protein. I also like to toss in some orzo or fusilli for an easy pasta salad – a great transportable lunch idea. Bulk it up with some beans and seeds or crumble in some canned tuna or feta to make a delicious healthy lunch. Serve them simply as a side with any meal, the list is endless.
Looking for more easy salad recipes?
I hope you enjoy this guide to making the Ultimate Chopped Salad – please let me know what combinations you come up with either in the comments or tag me on Instagram – @carrieskitchen.
The BEST Chopped Salad
- Large Mixing Bowl
- 200 grams Tomatoes
- 200 grams Cucumber
- 100 grams Red Onion about 1 medium onion
- 100 grams Radish
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil Or avocado or high quality rapeseed/canola
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice Or lime juice, vinegar
- 2 tbsp Fresh Chopped Parsley Or mix of your choice of herbs
- ¼ tsp Flaky Sea Salt or more/less to taste
- Finely slice the onion and radish. Dice the tomatoes and cucumber into small chunks.
- Add all of the vegetables plus the dressing ingredients, except the salt, to a large bowl and toss to combine.
- Add salt to taste – I usually start with 1/4tsp and add more a pinch at a time, tossing well between.
- Serve as a side or add some enhancements (see details in the post) to create your perfect chopped salad.