First of all, I dream in chopped salad. If you follow me on instagram, then you already know, I probably ate this rainbow veggie, peach and basil chopped salad, or something similar, three nights a week all summer long! No joke. Whether we were staying in Hawaii rentals, my mom’s in San Diego, my in-law’s in Orange County, I’d manage to hit the store and gather this arsenal of gorgeous healthy fixings no matter where I was— for this: MY FAVORITE CHOPPED SALAD.
Don’t Underestimate the small chop
Ok this isn’t like – ‘roughly chop some stuff’. The small chop is key! It just helps the flavors disperse in such a yummier way! ALSO– the salt helps the veggies release their juices and the whole thing gets so tasty before any dressing at all! Worth it. Cross my heart.
However, if you gave me a bowl of big lettuce with a few hunks of bell peppers and cucumbers on top, without a vat of some delicious creamy dressing, I’d cry. I was NOT meant to eat like a rabbit. But when everything is chopped up fine like this???? All you need is a little quality vinegar — NOT EVEN DRESSING– vinegar. And it’s DONE. GAME CHANGER. Full blown addictive for me.
Key Factors to making this salad AMAZING
- Chop your greens– yes even the greens! I buy a container of mixed greens and sometimes add in some arugula… but first grab a huge handful and roughly chop it fine on the cutting board. Feel free to add in some finely chopped romain too. But I don’t like this to be entirely romain. I feel like too much romain begs for a thick and creamy dressing– (this light creamy cilantro lime ranch does the trick.)
- Next you’ll dice up your cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, peaches- all nice and small. Like I’m not talking fourths for your cucumber. Smaller. You got this.
- When it comes to corn, and I hope it does! — off the cob is best! Raw or cooked is up to you. I like to microwave mine in the husk for 4 minutes. Peels right off afterwards and I’ll rinse in cold water to cool quicker. However, I also love raw sweet corn! Obviously grilled is delicious… the frozen bag of roasted corn from Trader Joe’s would be great too. HOWEVER I cannot in good conscience recommend canned. Not a fan here.
- Please oh please don’t skip the fresh herbs! They add so much vibrance to this salad! I just pick a bunch of leaves off of my plants (just keep a couple in my kitchen window) to form a big handful, (I really can’t ever have too much personally.. but you could always serve it on the side if you’re a skeptic). If I’ve got nice big leaves, I’ll layer them, roll them like a cigar, and finely slice into ribbons, chiffonade style like Ina taught me. If not, I just do my best!
Finally, all you need is a couple of tablespoons of your favorite balsamic vinegar. That’s it! It’s almost ready to devour. For like thirty minutes which might possibly be the best part. Drizzling some olive oil on there would obviously be delicious too. But when you’re watching your fat, and everything is chopped up nice and small, I promise this is all you need!
Extra Add ons
I like to keep the base salad super light and healthy and let everyone pile on more goodies as they like! Makes it easy to fit ANY macros AND easy for me to add in My Fitness Pal for you to log your portion– and then you can add on extra goodies. Here are some of our favorites:
- Grilled chicken OBVIOUSLY– I love it with our staple apple cider dijon, or this Lemon, basil, honey grilled chicken.
- Shaved parmesan
- Toasted Pine Nuts
And of course, take a picture before you toss it because there’s something about seeing all of the colorful pieces separated… am I right?
But there’s something better about them all being combined. And then drizzled with balsamic glaze – Trust me.
Rainbow Veggie, Peach, and Basil Chopped Salad
- Mixed greens chopped! – 200 g I like spring mix or a mixture of spring mix and arugula- chopped is key!
- Diced cucumber- 100 g a large handful!
- Corn sliced off the cob- 100 g see note below*
- Halved cherry tomatoes -100g
- Diced bell peppers-100 g I prefer orange, yellow, or red
- Diced peaches 100 g when out of season, apples, grapes, strawberries, pears — and just about any fruit could fill in!
- Diced red onion-60 g
- A handful of fresh basil leaves chopped
- A Small handful of fresh mint leaves chopped (I keep a plant of each in a pot in my kitchen window so I won’t forget to add to all of my salads. Fresh herbs are everything!
- 2 tbs – 30 g of your favorite balsamic VINEGAR.**
- Big pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of fresh cracked pepper
- *I usually microwave my corn in the husk for about 4 minutes the peel it off under cold water to cool it quickly. But raw or however you cook it is great!
- ** I don’t even use a vinaigrette or any oil. Just my favorite balsamic vinegar! But I do have a couple of specialty white balsamics that I love from a local shop. My favorites are peach lemon, and pineapple. SO GOOD. I can’t find mine online, but here’s one on amazon that gets good reviews. I just toss the whole salad in a couple of tbs which is like 6-8 carbs, and offer other bottled dressings if anyone in the family wants to add additional dressing to their own bowl. I prefer to save my fats for the avocado, some parmesan… or dessert later! When everything is chopped so small with all of those veggies, fresh herbs, and plenty of salt (releases the juices in the veggies) and pepper… it’s already amazing!
Additional items to have available for everyone to throw on their own salads- but not included in the macros. I prefer not to toss in these higher calorie items so I can control IF/how much I want of each.
- Grilled chicken like this basil lemon honey one
- Shaved parmesan chopped mozzarella, or blue cheese
- Balsamic glaze drizzle! key!
- Grab a handful of greens at a time and chop on a large cutting board- transfer to large bowl.
- Add the rest of the veggies, fruits, and herbs- and don’t underestimate the importance of everything being chopped small! It’s the key to NOT needing a rich salad dressing over all of these veggies.
- Top with a good pinch of kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, and quality balsamic vinegar. Toss!
- This makes four small side salad portions- I could probably eat ¾ of it with chicken for my dinner!
- If you don’t track macros and/or use a food scale, just do a big handful of a each 100 g item and a smaller handful of the others. Can’t really go wrong! Just being precise for the sake of tracking.
- If you DO track, you can make as directed and search “Lillie Eats and Tells Rainbow Veggie, Peach, and Basil Chopped Salad” in My Fitness Pal and log as many grams of salad as you take!