American-style chopped salad has finally hit London restaurant menus – including ours. And it's a good thing, too, after years of having to endure micro-greens and flabby, tasteless, supermarket leaves. I remember that about 25 years ago, the room service menu in hotels would often feature a chef's salad, which was basically whatever they had in the fridge chopped up and arranged neatly in a bowl. Cutting your seasonal vegetables to the right size to fit the fork or spoon is crucial, and crisp leaves like romaine or iceberg tossed in help to give it that crunch. Getting the dressing right is important, too – it needs to compliment the vegetables and there should be enough of it to coat the ingredients well.
You are going to see this salad on more and more restaurant menus with chicken, prawns, lobster – or cheese as a vegetarian alternative, and I've even heard that Fay Maschler is going to be doing chopped salad masterclasses.
6 boneless chicken thighs, cooked and cut into 1cm dice, or use feta for a vegetarian option
1 red pepper, halved, seeded and cut into 1cm dice
60-70g green beans, cooked and cut into cm lengths
4-5 spring onions, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, stoned and cut into rough 1cm dice
5-6cm piece of white radish, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
a small cucumber, halved, seeded and cut into rough cm cubes
1 large beef tomato, cut into 1cm dice
50-60g cooked peas and/or broad beans if in season (or use frozen)
1 small or half an iceberg or romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut into 1cm dice
1 small head of radicchio, washed, dried and cut into 1cm dice
2tbsp chopped chervil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
2tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
1tbsp Dijon mustard
3tbsp olive oil
3tbsp vegetable or corn oil
1 clove of garlic, halved
A few sprigs of tarragon
First make the dressing. Whisk all of the ingredients together, season and leave to infuse for a couple of hours, then strain through a sieve. To serve, toss all of the ingredients together, season and transfer to individual or large serving bowls.
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