“Salad can get a bad rap. People think of bland and watery iceberg lettuce, but in fact, salads are an art form, from the simplest rendition to a colorful kitchen-sink approach.”
– Marcus Samuelsson
I have always loved a good salad. And by good, it can be a simple mixed greens with a touch of vinaigrette, as long as the ingredients are fresh. It’s that element of crunch whether it be the lettuce, roasted nuts, or my favorite crunchies for Chinese Chicken Salad at Feast from the East. Since my childhood, my absolute favorite go-to meal when I don’t want to think about cooking, is the Original Chopped Salad from La Scala. Founded in 1956, Chef Jean Leon was the first Los Angeles Italian restauranteur to serve white truffles (drool) and make his own pasta (need I say more?). Memories still flood back of going to La Scala with my parents and feeling so grown up, while enjoying my favorite meal. This yummy salad is full of watery vegetables – you can never have enough H2O, and chock full of protein and calcium from the chick peas and cheese. Best part is, you can put this together on the fly for a family dinner or a crowd pleasing favorite when you need a dish to bring for sharing at a party. The leftovers make a perfect lunch the next day…
The base is a mix of iceberg and romaine lettuces.
Part of what makes a chop salad appealing to me, is that all of the ingredients are cut to a small size, therefore allowing a little taste of each ingredient in every bite. These chick peas, one of my favorite sources of protein, have been marinating for 24 hours in red wine vinegar. It infuses these mighty beans with some extra flavor, leaving extras in vinegar so they can continue to pickle for an on the go snack.
My family is crazy about these little organic sugar plum tomatoes from Trader Joes, and I always have a box of them in my fridge. Quarter the tomatoes with a serrated knife, it works wonders on these plump, juicy orbs. Add two heaping handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese. Chop that up too.
Although I have drastically cut down my consumption of meat, Rose requested grilled chicken be added since I opted not to use the traditional ingredient of salami. Leon’s chopped comes with a choice of salami, turkey or tuna, and of course the meatless version. You can’t go wrong with any of these! These grilled breasts are super easy to make. There are always leftovers that can be added to a number of other dishes throughout the week.
After all the veggies have been added, lightly dress the salad with a simple vinaigrette and toss. I love using serving pieces from my grandmothers, like this vintage punch bowl. Another great inspiration to hunt for these collectibles for our store that are as versatile as they are stunning.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make something look beautiful. Chicken breasts sliced into strips with a fresh garnish of rosemary clipped from the garden look a lot more appetizing than a plate full of breasts . Well, in most cases at least, wink wink.
Today I packed my leftovers for lunch at work, and it is deee-lish! A container of chopped salad, mixed berries (my fave fruit, loaded with anti-oxidants), and a shot of green juice – a perfect burst of vitamins throughout the day. Through out my journey, I have searched for ways to beautify mundane everyday objects. Looking around the studio for something, I stumbled across a box of scrap leather from various projects. What to do with these pieces? Recalling clutches and key chains we had made in the past, we thought these would make amazing lunch bags! Environmentally friendly and pretty to look at, I made a pattern and took it to my favorite seamstress to implement. Voila! Adult lunch bags were born. We don’t have to be perfect all the time, but I am doing my best to eat as healthy as possible every chance I get. For my health, and for my family and friends’ health. Setting the example for my kids over the years has made them crave my home made meals over junk food, and that makes my heart happy.
DEB’S CHOPPED SALAD a la LA SCALA
1/2 large head of Iceberg lettuce
2-3 Romaine hearts
1/2 box of cherry tomatoes (Sugar plums from Trader Joe’s are my fave)
1/2 can of marinated chickpeas
2 big handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese
Optional – sliced salami, turkey, canned tuna
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1 c grape seed oil
1 Tbs of sea salt
cracked pepper to taste
3 tsp dry mustard Shake well before use and store in mason jar
(makes enough for several days)
Slice and chop iceberg and romaine lettuce. After marinating chick peas in red wine vinegar for 12-24 hours, drain the chickpeas and chop well. Using a serrated knife, quarter the cherry tomatoes. Throw all of these into a large bowl and add two big handfuls of mozzarella. Add a few tablespoons of the dressing. Toss well and serve. Optional – Garnish with grilled chicken cut into strips or sliced salami, turkey or canned tuna.
1 package organic chicken breasts
Marinate 4-8 hours in juice of one lemon, 3 Tbs olive oil, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 Tsp thyme, 1 Tbs each of salt and pepper
Butterfly breasts and pound so they are even. Grill five minutes on each side.