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Nancy’s Chopped Salad with Grilled Pita Bread

This main course salad, compliments of Nancy Silverton again, is Nutrition and Summer on a plate. I served it for the two of us for a weeknight dinner recently, accompanied with grilled pita bread with Za’atar

…and there was plenty left over for lunch the next day. This salad can be adapted in so many ways, by adding or subtracting ingredients. Chop whatever vegetables you have on hand, and add any cheese or salami. I followed the recipe exactly, including the overnight soaking, then cooking the chickpeas (which imparts more flavour into them) but you can always use a can of drained ones instead. I used home-made pita bread, a recipe I will share another time, but store-bought would also be fine.

half a small red onion (halved through the core)
1 small head iceberg lettuce
1 medium head radicchio
1 pint small cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt
1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
4 oz. aged provolone, sliced 1/8″ thick and cut into 1/4″ wide strips
4 oz. Genoa salami, sliced 1/8″ thick and cut into 1/4″ wide strips
5 peperoncini, stems cut off and discarded, thinly sliced (about 1/4 c.)
1/2 c. Oregano Vinaigrette
juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
dried oregano, for sprinkling

Slice the onion half as thinly as possible. Place in a small bowl of ice water and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for the salad. This soaking takes the bite out of the onion, making it more sweet and palatable. Cut the iceberg lettuce in half through the core, remove the core and outer leaves and slice into 1/4″ slices. Thinly slice the radicchio the same way.

Cut the tomatoes in half and season them with salt. Combine the lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes, chickpeas, provolone, salami, peperoncini, and onion slices in a large, wide bowl. Season with salt and toss thoroughly to combine the ingredients. Drizzle with vinaigrette and squeeze the lemon juice over the salad, then toss gently to coat the salad with the dressing. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, lemon juice or vinaigrette, if desired. Place salad on a large platter or on individual plates and sprinkle with dried oregano.

1 c. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 T. Kosher salt
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery rib, halved
1 dried arbol chile
16 garlic cloves
1/2 onion

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 1/2 “, salt and the olive oil. Place the carrot, celery, chile, garlic, and onion in a doubled piece of cheesecloth and tie it into a bundle with string. Add it to the chickpeas and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until chickpeas are very tender and creamy, about 2 hours, adding more water as needed to just cover the chickpeas. The cooking time will vary depending on how long the peas were soaked and how old they are: it can be anywhere between 1-4 hours. Turn off the heat and allow the peas to cool in the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle. The chickpeas can be prepared to this point up to one week in advance. If using them now, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid to use in a soup, or to use later, transfer chickpeas in the cooking liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Note: The cooked chickpeas and the cooking liquid also make a great humous. In a food processor, purée about 1 1/2 c. cooked and drained chickpeas with 1-2 cloves garlic, 1 T. tahini paste and 3 T. lemon juice (less or more to taste). With machine running, add 2 T. good quality olive oil through the feed tube and enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Oregano Vinaigrette
This recipe makes enough dressing for this salad, plus lots left over, good also on a Greek salad.

2 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. dried oregano
1 T. lemon juice, plus more to taste (I used a lot more lemon juice, at least 3 T. total)
2 garlic cloves, 1 smashed and 1 grated or minced
1/2 t. Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 t. ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil (I only used 1 cup of oil, half olive oil and half grapeseed oil)

Combine the vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, smashed garlic, grated garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set the vinaigrette aside to rest for 5 minutes to marinate the oregano. Add the olive oil in a slow, thin stream whisking constantly to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice, if desired. Note: I mixed the dressing in the food processor, which does a much better job of emulsifying the mixture.

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