I can’t help but marvel a little at this Italian Chopped Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette. It just has SO much going on. Nine ingredients, seemingly unrelated, come together to form something not only delicious, but beautiful. Sounds a lot like most families. Or teams. Churches. Workplaces. People who don’t always “go together” come together to form something not only functional, but beautiful.
We’ll start with the lettuce—the backbone of the salad. This is the family patriarch, the team leader, the pastor, or the CEO. They cast the vision for what the group is about, much like the lettuce determines that the dish will be a salad.
Now onto the tomatoes. They’re squishy and sweet, with just enough acidity to round them out (sounds like Grandma).
The cucumbers? They’re refreshing. They’re your “person” at work—the one who makes you laugh, the is the only reason that you don’t go nuts when things get crazy.
The olives, the bacon, and the Parmigiano Reggiano add edge to the salad—a salty bite that cuts through the freshness of the salad. You know who these people are. I believe they usually go by the term “sassy”.
The pasta is the unusual ingredient. It’s not what you’d typically expect in a salad, but is surprisingly a great addition. These are my favorite people—maybe they don’t quite fit in, but you’d sure miss them if they were gone.
Green onions are the unexpected. They’re small but mighty, packing a punch when you get one in your forkful. These are the people who are unassuming, but then they surprise you in the best way.
Finally, the red wine vinaigrette ties it all together. This is the friend who keeps texting the group to find a time to meet up. This is mom or dad—the ones who unite family members like no one can. This is the team member at work who works as the peacemaker, knitting everyone’s personalities and contributions together.
Altogether, these ingredients make a delightful chopped salad. Nine distinct ingredients, each making a contribution. Would it still be a salad without one of the ingredients? Sure. Would it be the same? No.
I think I often get caught in thinking that my way is best. Or that my contribution makes the most sense. I may listen to someone else’s opinion, but then do it my way anyway. Just ask my husband! 🙂
But I think I miss so much beauty when I do it on my own. It’s like having a salad made entirely of lettuce. It’s functional, but not nearly as beautiful, or as colorful, or as fun without other opinions, contributions, and help. This is something that I’m slowly learning, and working on.
In the meantime, you can find me chowing down on this Italian Chopped Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette. I made it to accompany these Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches. Both are perfect for a cozy afternoon indoors. The beef can hang out in a slow cooker set to “warm” for several hours, and the salad (without the vinaigrette) can hang out on the countertop. Just add the vinaigrette right before serving, toast the bread for the sandwiches, and you’re ready to eat!
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Italian Chopped Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Yield 6–8 servings
For the salad:
- 1 head red or green leaf lettuce, torn into small pieces
- 2 roma tomatoes, cut into a small dice
- ½ seedless cucumber, cut into a small dice
- ⅓ cup kalamata olives, halved
- 1 cup cooked miniature penne pasta
- ⅓ cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly
- Optional: 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
For the red wine vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Place the red wine vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to combine.
- Pour half of the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients. Toss to combine. Add the remaining vinaigrette as desired. Serve immediately.