This easy chopped salad is colourful and fun, and you can customize it with whatever vegetables you have in your fridge or pantry. Anything goes – let your inner chef be your guide! Just chop it all up, either big or small, evenly diced or roughly cut, and top it with the light and tangy homemade vinaigrette that’s quick to shake up (make enough to keep a jar of it in the fridge). This chopped salad recipe is a great basic to have in your repertoire (and is really good for giving kids chopping practice to improve knife skills).  (Skip to recipe.)

a big bowl of chopped salad and jar of dressing

We love to eat salad every day, in some form or other. If I don’t have some sort of crunchy vegetable on my plate, it feels like something’s missing. Sometimes it’s even just a pickle, but at least it has crunch!

A great way to get kids eating (and loving) salads, is to get them involved in the making of them. A chopped salad is a fun way to start. It’s simple and tasty, no matter what combination of ingredients you choose.

Cooking with William

William holding a big bowl of the chopped salad he made - a big smile on his face

look at that big proud smile

Making a chopped salad gives lots of practice using proper cutting skills:

  1. Holding the knife with the thumb and index finger curled around the blade near the handle gives more control.
  2. Holding the veggies with curled fingers in a ‘kitten claw’ keeps fingers safe and out of the blade’s reach.
  3. Cutting a thin slice off the bottom of rolling vegetables, like carrots, keeps them laying flat on the cutting board so they don’t roll away from the knife and cause an ‘ouchy’ slip-up.
  4. Cutting by leaving the tip of the knife near the board and rocking the handle up and down increases speed and accuracy of cuts.

Look at William showing us how to do it.

William cutting green onions with the proper finger positions

future chef in action

Making a chopped salad means you get to use up what fresh veggies and herbs you have on hand. It can be a different salad every time (see some of the suggestions in the Notes below). What makes it different from a normal green salad, is that you chop up all the pieces more evenly and smaller – no big raggedy leaves of lettuce to have to stuff in your mouth in one piece. You can dice all the vegetables evenly, or chop them more randomly on the cutting board, as long as they’re all a similar size. I like to dice everything, laying each pile of veggies on the cutting board and chopping through the pile several more times with a knife once I’ve diced them, then tossing them into the bowl together.

What Can you Put in a Chopped Salad?

You can substitute any of the salad ingredients in the recipe with what you have in your fridge. (Use about a cup/2 large handfuls of each vegetable.) Try using: halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, green cabbage, jicama, sweet onions, raw or defrosted frozen peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, daikon radish, napa cabbage, fennel, zucchini, Belgian endive, kohlrabi, corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned), fresh herbs, etc. You can even add a chopped apple that’s been tossed with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning . . . you get the picture.

piles of chopped vegetables in the bowl, ready to be tossed with dressing

this salad has purple cabbage in it

Chopped Salad ready for dressing

this one has tomato instead

And Then There’s This Super Easy Vinaigrette

Now you just shake up the dressing ingredients in a jar – or whisk them in a measuring cup, and you’ve got a colourful fresh salad loaded with crunch and flavour. The dressing is bright and tangy – a bit of dijon mustard adds flavour and helps it emulsify and get creamy when you shake it. The simple vinaigrette is easy to make – I always make a double or triple batch and have it in a jar in the fridge, ready for a quick salad anytime. It’s so much better than the store-bought versions – no long list of unpronounceable ingredients.

If you make a large batch of chopped veggies, you can store them for days in the fridge (see how in the Notes below) and save yourself the work of chopping vegetables every day. You can dress just a small amount of the salad as needed, or pour all the dressing onto the bowl of chopped vegetables, toss, and it’s ready to serve a crowd.

pouring the vinaigrette onto the salad

When kids get to help make a salad, it’s surprising how proud of it they are and how much more they enjoy eating it.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes:  Use whatever fresh, crisp vegetables you have on hand, for a total of about 6 cups (1.5l) of chopped veggies plus a few cups of chopped lettuce (crisp types like romaine or iceberg work best here), or any amount that fits the crowd you’re feeding. Don’t use softer greens like spinach or butter lettuce if you plan to store the undressed salad in the fridge, as they deteriorate much more quickly.

This makes a large bowl of chopped salad, serving 6 to 8. You can chop up all the veggies and keep them in the fridge in a covered container or bag for a few days with a folded paper towel inside to absorb extra moisture. Seal the container or bag – then just remove portions of salad as you need them.

I also recommend making a double or triple batch of the vinaigrette and keeping it in the fridge to dress this salad and other types of green salads. It will keep for a month or longer in the fridge. For ease of measuring: there are 3 teaspoons in one tablespoon, and 16 tablespoons in 1 cup, so every 4 tablespoons = ¼ cup.

bowl of chopped salad, jar of dressing, and a few vegetables lying on the table

Chopped Salad with an Easy Vinaigrette

for the salad:

  • 1 romaine lettuce heart (just the inner leaves) or about half of a head of iceberg lettuce
  • 2 mini cucumbers, or a 4-6 inch (10-15cm) piece of a regular cucumber
  • 1 tomato, chopped, or ~ 1 cup chopped purple cabbage
  • 1 bell pepper – red, green, yellow, or orange
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 5 – 6 radishes
  • 2 green onions/scallions

Easy Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons oil (I like avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Wash all the vegetables and trim the ends off the cucumber, celery stalks, radishes, and green onions, core the tomato and the bell pepper, and peel the carrots. Chop or dice all the vegetables into about ½ inch/1cm cubes; if you’d like smaller pieces, as you finish cutting each type of vegetable, pile it up on the chopping board and chop it a few more times with a big knife. Pile all the chopped vegetables into a big bowl.

Put all the vinaigrette ingredients into a large measuring cup or a small jar, and whisk or shake it vigorously until they are combined into a creamy dressing. It will separate into layers as it sits, so you’ll need to shake or whisk it again each time before you use it.

If you think you’ll need all the salad for a meal, pour all the dressing over the chopped vegetables, and toss to combine them. If you’re serving just a few people, you can just dress a portion of the vegetables with some of the dressing and save the rest in the fridge for another  meal.

Leftover, undressed chopped salad keeps well in an airtight container or zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator. Just fold up a paper towel and tuck it on top of the veggies before sealing the bag. The paper towel will absorb extra moisture from the salad, keeping it fresh for several days in the fridge, and you can just remove portions of salad as you need them and dress them with some of the vinaigrette you’ve got in the jar in the fridge.

Serves 6 – 8.

Guten Appetit!

 

For more fun cooking projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series here.

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Colorful chopped salad uses whatever veggies you have, dressed with an easy vinaigrette.

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Chopped Salad - use any veggies you have & toss with this easy vinaigrette.