Inventing your own chopped salad recipe is a great way to release your inner chef and use up an abundance of salad leaves, as well as raw and cooked fruit and vegetables. Imagine you’re at an American-style salad bar, choose what you fancy, letting your tastebuds guide you through your creation, then simply chop and combine. In my fridge I’ve currently got some courgette, broccoli, rhubarb, cooked chickpeas and oregano. Even this experimental combination of ingredients made for a wonderful, one-pot meal, topped with a few store cupboard items such as pumpkin seeds, chilli and za’atar (pictured).
As for the dressing, I much prefer the simplicity of dressing a salad in the bowl with nothing more than oil and a little lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper. But that’s not to say there’s no benefit to experimenting with the addition of other condiments, cheese, mustard, garlic, etc, too.
If you don’t want to invent your own recipe from scratch, here are some classic combinations from around the world. None of the ingredients in any of the following is essential, so keep the thrifty spirit and use what you have available. The method for all recipes is simply chop (unless otherwise stated) and combine to taste.
Arabic salad Cucumber, tomato, red onion, mint, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice. Optional extras: peppers, bulgur wheat, crisp bread, beans, cooked chickpeas etc.
Greek salad Tomato, cucumber, salad leaves, onion, pitted olives, oregano, olive oil. Optional extras: parsley, marjoram, thyme, peppers, capers, feta, etc.
Californian salad Kale, grated carrot, spring onion, whole cooked barley, whole sunflower seeds, mustard, red-wine vinegar, olive oil. Optional extras: croutons, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Indian salad Bhel puri: boiled potatoes, red onion, tomatoes, chilli, puffed whole rice, fresh coriander, chaat (or garam) masala, lemon juice. Optional extras: crushed roasted peanuts, whole cooked chickpeas, crushed Indian fried bread or popadom, Indian chutney, sev or Bombay mix, etc.