Chopped Salad with Steak and Fresh Herbs

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Posted by Roth McCoy | Posted in Picnic Food And Recipes, Recipes with Meat | Posted on 07-07-2015

Chopped Salad with Steak and Fresh Herbs

One of the best things about going on a picnic or taking to the woods is having a meal to match the environment and this dish can do that and more.

By having a cool salad that can be made up ahead of time with the dressing already on it makes for a quick and easy meal on the go. Also this salad takes advantage of using any left-overs you may have on hand in the fridge. Those little bits of steak, a small bite of cheese, or any number of raw vegetables can be added to the basic study Romaine lettuce and still hold up for travel.  Even the croutons are made from day old or stale bread so new life is given to those hidden treasures in your kitchen for this popular salad.

Many restaurants have offered a version of a chopped salad over the years and it gets a make-over every now and then but the popularity stays high among picnickers since it is a durable and easy to prepare salad. So as you look at the ingredients feel free to adjust and substitute as you need to make best use of what you have on hand. This is not necessarily one of those recipes you will carry to the grocery store looking for ingredients rather look at what you have and more than likely you have everything you need already.

A little extra dressing does not hurt.

A little extra dressing does not hurt.

Here are the ingredients for the salad and the basic notion is to use a good sturdy item that has not been cut too small so as to hold up to the dressing and to some time in travel or storage.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups Romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups green kale leaves
  • 1 ½ cups diced cucumber, English style with small seeds
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes, firm but ripe
  • Several stems fresh parsley
  • 3 or 4 stems fresh lemon thyme
  • 4 or 5 stems fresh oregano
  • Your choice of firm cheese, sharp cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, etc.
  • Kalamata olives to taste
  • One-half to one cup diced cooked steak, roast beef, or other cooked meats
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper, large dice
  • 2 cups handmade croutons
  • ½ cup vinaigrette or to taste – recipe below
The makings of a great salad!

The makings of a great salad!

 

Fresh herbs always provide a clean taste for salad and freshly picked helps as well.

Fresh herbs always provide a clean taste for salad and freshly picked helps as well.

Italian flat leaf parsley has more flavor and of course right out of the garden is even better.

Italian flat leaf parsley has more flavor and of course right out of the garden is even better.

Whether lemon thyme or Greek thyme this member of the mint family will work for salad.

Whether lemon thyme or Greek thyme this member of the mint family will work for salad.

Using the rib and leaves gives a nice crispiness to the salad.

Using the rib and leaves gives a nice crispiness to the salad.

Cutting the red onions thin keeps the flavor from being too assertive.

Cutting the red onions thin keeps the flavor from being too assertive.

Toasting in olive oil and butter refreshes the stale bread.

Toasting in olive oil and butter refreshes the stale bread.

Putting it all together:

  • Cut the Romaine lettuce by first slicing the soft or browned tops from the tops of the leaves. Then cut the leaves lengthwise trying to split the center rib as best you can. Cut the split leaves into pieces about 1 to 2 inches long including the center ribs. This is a great crispy element to the salad.
  • Take the kale leaves and slice them a little smaller since they are pretty durable regardless of how cut. After cutting a good tip is to rub between your palms to massage the leaves and this will soften them a bit for easier eating and they will also absorb the dressing better.
  • The English or hot house cucumber has a smaller seed than the garden variety so just take a peeler or knife and make several stripes down the length then cut into bias or diagonal slices. Then cut those into cubes. Rustic is the key word here so don’t worry about being exact on size just be consistent in your sizing and think of how hard it may be to eat if the pieces are too big.
  • You can see in the photo that for the red onion we have sliced it thinner than anything else in the salad because a big fat chunk of red onion would not be a pleasant bite so keep this on the thin side.
  • For the tomato a good chunky size works and after sitting for while they will break up a little anyway which helps make for a flavorful dressing in the bottom of the bowl.
  • For the herbs rather than cutting, just tearing or pulling off the stems works best and consider this part of the salad green.
  • The cheese can be anything that works for you but cheese like feta may crumble too much and muddy up the texture and flavor of the rest of the ingredients.
  • For the croutons take a good artisan bread and cut off the crust if it is very hard and tear or cut the bread into pieces about 1-inch by 1-inch. Heat a little butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet until bubbly and toss the croutons to coat as evenly as possible. Cook until browned and allow to cool before adding to the salad.
  • Any bottled dressing of choice may be used but a vinaigrette style is best rather than the creamy dressings. To make your own the basic recipe is 1 part of red wine vinegar to 3 parts of oil. Then add flavorings such as salt and pepper, Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice, etc. For this salad you would use a little more dressing than a normal  salad because you want to sort of marinate the ingredients and let the croutons soak up the dressing. To make enough vinaigrette for this salad here is a simple recipe:
    • 2 oz red wine vinegar
    • 6 oz good quality olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • Squeeze of lemon juice
    • 2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • Salt and pepper to taste
      • Add all except oil to small bowl and dribble oil in whisking continuously
      • Check for seasoning and correct as desired
      • Also can put all the ingredients in a bullet style blender and whirl
It is really this easy, add to bowl and toss!

It is really this easy, add to bowl and toss!

  • Put everything into a large bowl and toss to coat. Can serve immediately but it really is better after sitting for about 30 minutes or up to several hours. If holding for hours add additional fresh croutons at time of service and garnish with more fresh herbs.
A little extra dressing does not hurt.

A little extra dressing does not hurt.

 

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