My family knows how much I love salad. This is hard for them because they love meat. They would eat meat everyday, all day if I would let them. I like meat also, but I love salad more, go figure. I could eat salad everyday. My history with salad goes way back.
I must confess, I am addicted to salads. Not the "salads" that we all have experienced, the one with wilted brown lettuce, soggy vegetables, and dry chicken.
No, I am talking about a real salad, with fresh organic lettuces, crisp peppers and onions, perfectly cooked pasta, diced tomatoes and cucumbers. When I was pregnant, I ate salad everyday.
It was the only food my soon to be daughter allowed me to hold down. Salad, milk and mike and ike candy (LOL) that was my pregnancy diet. I only gained 18 pounds due to this "salad" diet.
I love to add unique vegetables to my salad and that requires at times a long, long drive to the nearest farmers market or in some cases the actual farm.
The key to excellent salads, is good fresh, crisp lettuces and dry vegetables.
I salad spin all my vegetables, because I want everything dry.
Don't forget to dice your vegetables so they are bite size. The purpose of a chopped salad is to have perfectly chopped vegetables.
Who likes wet, soggy salad? Not me, I want everything dry as possible, sometimes I even wrap the salad spinned lettuce in paper napkins and stick in the refrigerator for more dry time and to crisp the lettuce even more.
Fresh organic broccoli, dropped in hot boiling water then shocked into ice cold water to maintain that beautiful green color.
Add ice to the cold water, this is very important to stop the cooking process.
Cut large stem off broccoli, you can freeze this and save it for soup.
Because my cucumbers are organic, I do not peel the skin. For non-organic cucumbers, please peel the skin and discard.
Slice the cucumbers in long strips, then dice.
Toss in fresh cooked pasta to give the salad body.
Mash hard boiled eggs with a fork.
Use the side of the fork and chop, chop, chop and this is what you will end up with.
Toss all the vegetables with the pasta. add some cheese if you like.
Mix rice wine vinegar and olive oil and toss the salad with this light vinaigrette.
All your hard work will pay off, I promise. Enjoy!
Chopped Pasta Salad
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
1 head of butter lettuce, chopped
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 bag of coleslaw
1 bunch of broccoli
1 container of red grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cucumbers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
4 oz sharp cheese, grated
4 oz jack cheese, grated
1 box of rotini pasta
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. creole seasoning
crispy bacon (optional)
salad dressings of your choice
Put pasta water on first, top of lid so water boils quickly. Once pasta water is up to boil, salt the pasta water with about 1 teaspoon of salt. Boil pasta according to pasta box directions, drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.
Add broccoli florets to pasta water and cook 3 minutes, remove quickly and shock in bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.
Chop lettuces and soak for about 5 minutes in bowl of water to remove any remaining dirt. Lift lettuce out of bowl allowing any dirt to drop to the bottom, repeat this step if needed. Put lettuces and coleslaw in salad spinner and spin until dry, put lettuce in a large bowl and set aside.
Slice tomatoes in half put in salad spinner, chop bell peppers and onions add to salad spinner.
Slice ends off of cucumbers and discard. Slice cucumbers in half and with a teaspoon remove all the seeds out of the cucumbers. Slice cucumbers into strips and dice into small pieces. Add to salad spinner.
Chop of the large end of the broccoli and cut florets into bit size pieces, add to salad spinner.
Spin all the vegetables until dry and add to large salad bowl.
Top salad with pasta, egg, and cheese. Add garlic powder, black pepper and creole seasonings. Pour rice wine vinegar and mix salad. Add olive oil and mix salad. Top with bacon if you like.
This is my base salad, sometimes I omit the pasta, sometimes I add chicken breast or shrimp. Please take this base salad and make it your own. If you don't like bacon (who doesn't) don't add it. Also, I serve this with extra salad dressing on the side. My baby girl does not like dressing she just loves the vinaigrette, I on the other hand likes to add ranch dressing to my salad.