main course chopped salad with tomato vinaigrette

Hey everybody – I’m home from Florida, and this hearty chopped salad with a spicy tomato vinaigrette is just what the doctor ordered after more than a week of vacation eating.  (I’m looking at you, onion strings…)  Healthy and simple is my mantra for the week.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I ate like a queen with my Dad and his wife Kathy, but now I need to get back to reality.   I think a chopped salad like this is just about as far as you can take a salad and still call it a salad – it’s downright loaded.   But it’s definitely healthy, and figure friendly, not to mention fork friendly!

colorul and super healthy chopped salad

When a chopped salad is good and fresh, it’s one of the best meals around.   And making it yourself can turn what is sometimes a blah cafeteria staple into a really spectacular meal.   The key is to use good fresh ingredients, (duh) and lots of them.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of a few shortcuts…I used a rotisserie chicken, canned chickpeas, and a handful of olives from my supermarket’s olive bar to round out my array of chopped goodies.  The bacon can crisp and the eggs boil while you are prepping the rest.

protein packed chopped salad

Sometimes with salads of this type the chopped part looks great and then the lettuce underneath is a namby pamby iceberg.  I found a new organic Deep Green lettuce blend from Earthbound Farms that I used as my base here.  Then I went to town with the chopped stuff.  Between the chicken, bacon, egg, chickpeas and feta cheese, there’s plenty of protein in here to qualify as dinner.

coloirful chopped salad

The rest is chosen for flavor, color and texture.  And the best part is that you can assemble it ahead of time and keep it refrigerated, it won’t wilt.

a super tangy and spicy tomato vinaigrette

You know I love my salad dressings.  They are easily as important as the salad itself.  This one is a new favorite.  I took a medium ripe tomato and whizzed it up in my small food processor.  Then I blended it with some harissa paste, which is a Tunisian spicy red pepper paste (think of it as Middle Eastern ketchup.) It adds a depth of color and flavor, but you can also use regular tomato paste if you don’t like it spicy.  Some good sherry vinegar, olive oil, and a hit of salt and pepper is all it needs.  It has a beautiful color and striking flavor.

chopped salad with tomato vinaigrette

I grilled an ear of corn on a super hot grill pan and gave it little turns as I chopped my veggies.  It adds a nice starchy sweetness and a little bit of charred flavor.  You can swap out the rest of the elements according to what you have or like.  Black or white beans can replace the garbanzos.  Goat cheese can replace feta, etc.

Chopped Salad with Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette

Yield: serves 4


  • 4 handfuls of your favorite lettuce mix
  • 2 eggs, boiled, peeled and chopped
  • 1'2 cup canned chick peas, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup cubed feta cheese
  • 1 cup chopped cooked rotisserie chicken
  • 1 ear of corn, grilled and kernels removed
  • 1 small Persian cucumber thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 handful of Greek olives
  • 1 cup halved small cherry tomatoes
  • a few basil leaves
  • tomato vinaigrette
  • 1 small to medium ripe red tomato (to yield about 1/3 cup puree)
  • 1 Tbsp harissa paste (or tomato paste)
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Lay the lettuce out onto a wide round salad bowl.
  2. Top with all the ingredients, laying out each one in its own section.
  3. Scatter the basil leaves over the top.
  4. To make the dressing, give the tomato a rough chop and puree it in a small food processor.
  5. Whisk in the harissa or tomato paste, the vinegar, and the olive oil until blended. Add the salt and black pepper to taste.


The above amounts are just guidelines, feel free to adjust them to your liking.

main course chopped salad with tomato vinaigrette

I tucked in a few basil leaves for flavor.  The salad hit the spot, and definitely is not your cafeteria’s chopped salad.  I think this would be a great choice to bring to a barbecue or picnic because as salads go, it’s fairly study, and beautifully impressive.

healthy and beautiful chopped salad

I’m glad to be back, but it’s tough being so far from family.  These visits aren’t nearly enough…but I do always come home excited to get back to my kitchen and bring you fun recipes inspired by my trip.  Have a wonderful Friday everyone!


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30 Responses to Chopped Salad with Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette

  1. I love it ! Healthy and simple :) thank you

  2. Tamara says:

    My husband and I loved this salad and the dressing. I have only one complaint and it’s my fault. I have a really bad back and all of the prep work nearly killed me even with hubby doing a lot of the chopping. I didn’t see or notice a prep time for this salad. Maybe you could include that in future recipes?

    • Sue says:

      Good point Tamara, I never thought of that. This isn’t an everyday salad, and you’re right, it takes some chopping — hope your back feels better!

  3. It is also really making me crave saturday afternoon on my terrace

  4. Gerlinde says:

    Your salad looks great but I’m going to make the tomato vinaigrette the next time I have a salad.

  5. Susan says:

    Glad you had a great time in Florida, Sue! What a gorgeous salad and your photos are stunning! I love the sound of the spicy tomato dressing too. We had been eating like fools during all of our celebrations the past two weeks and are need to do salads for a while too. Looking forward to trying this!

  6. This is a beautiful looking salad! I love salads that are loaded and with lots of protein. I could definitely eat this several times a week without getting tired of it.

  7. grace says:

    more beautiful work from you, sue! my eyes love this and i’m sure my taste receptacles would too. :)

  8. The salad looks incredibly delicious and beautiful!

  9. Sheila says:

    This looks amazing. I am making this for a women’s dinner this week. I cannot wait!

  10. Oh my gosh Sue – this is a GORGEOUS looking salad! I am loving all the bright colors and fantastic ingredients in there. If every salad looked like this, I’d be eating salad a lot more often!

  11. Wow, Sue! What a gorgeous chopped salad, I love all the colors and that spicy vinaigrette!

  12. Your posts always brighten my day! So colourful and fresh. A beautiful salad and love the spicy tomato vinaigrette.

  13. Ramona says:

    Wow, that salad looks fantastic! :)

  14. This is the prettiest chopped salad I’ve ever seen. Love everything about it and that dressing sounds wonderful. I have dried harissa spice but no paste – I may have to work with it! So glad you have a good time and enjoyed all those wonderful things that should be enjoyed on vacation. Have a lovely weekend!

  15. What time is dinner? It looks so fresh and super delicious!

  16. This salad not only sounds amazing, it looks beautiful! I love all the colors – you know it’s a good salad when it has every color in the rainbow. Plus a spicy tomato vinaigrette! I’ve never even heard of that, but it sounds uber delicious! Have a great weekend!

  17. It is so hard being away from my kids, but it is that much sweeter when we are together. This salad looks phenomenal and I’d like mine with a few onion strings on top!

  18. Rosa says:

    This salad looks fantastic and incredibly drool worthy!



  19. Now this is a salad! So fresh, colorful, and full of wonderful healthy goodies! That tomato vinaigrette sounds fantastic!

  20. Mary says:

    Healthy and simple is a great mantra! the salad is perfect, fresh, veggies, plenty of protein and a great dressing – fabulous!

  21. Sue, I know how you feel. . my parents are in Texas and my brother and sister are also in different states .. we’re all over the place! but when we do get together, we try to cherish it! Healthy and simple is my mantra for the next few months since I’m training so I absolutely LOVE this salad . . everything you make is so beautiful!

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