Chopped salads used to be a thing of country clubs and steakhouses. And those were the dish’s golden days: sitting stately, next to a baked potato or a rib-eye, medium. They were a proud third wheel to California business lunches, this time shrouded in bacon and avocado and egg. They were much-ordered and well-loved.
And then we went too far. Now, there are chain stores armed with knives in both hands, ready to violently dismantle your lunch. There are articles reporting their popularity; there are drugstores selling them. Now? We love to hate chopped salads.
The climate around chopped salads may have calmed slightly -- to a dull drizzle from a full storm -- but still, somewhere in between the chains and the trend pieces and the grilled lemon-herb chicken option at Duane Reade, the chopped salad lost its way.
Let’s get it back on course.
This salad comes from Andrew Burman of newly-minted The Runner in Brooklyn, and it’s one that’s meant to be chopped. It’s a happy, brassica-heavy family full of all your stalwart late-winter vegetables, and their cruciferous backbones protect effortlessly against over-dressing -- which is arguably the chopped salad’s most common sin. The chopping here is discriminative, careful, considered. And it’s delicious.
What we originally loved about about chopped salads was that they’re equal opportunity: A chopped salad levels the ingredient playing field in a way that few other dishes do. With no one part allowed to take the spotlight, it’s a game of passing instead of laying up, where everyone wins in the end. This salad reminds us of that.
Burman likes his salad dressings “as thick as mayonnaise,” which is why he’ll instruct you to use a blender for yours. I’ve done it with a whisk, which works, but if you’re not feeling particularly masochistic, you should pull your blender down and dust it off. He’ll also have you salt and sugar the chopped vegetables beforehand, a technique you’ve probably used on your coleslaw a time or two. And he’s right to: this helps relax their tight-shouldered leaves and draw out any of their lingering bitterness.
Massaged and showered with sugar and salt, this salad will last up to 3 days in the fridge; alone and undressed, it will last a week. Which is a good thing, because I can’t, for the life of me, find a time not to eat this. It’s for when you want to restore your faith in chopped salads, for when you don’t want something that threatens to spiral every which way on date night. It’s for when you don’t want your food to put up a fight; for when you have no clean utensils other than spoons. And it’s for every time in between.
Serves 8 to 10
For the greens:
1/2 pound lacinato kale (about one small bunch, or half of a larger bunch)
1/2 pound curly kale (about one small bunch, or half of a larger bunch)
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 pound green cabbage (about half a medium head or a quarter of a large one)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil, optional
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon toasted pistachios
Photos by Eric Moran