I keep trying to figure out the term “chopped salad”. Today’s ‘chopped salad’ is yesterday’s ‘tossed salad’. At least that’s what I think it is. Easy peasy.
My mom never followed the ‘tear your lettuce’ rule. If it couldn’t be dispatched with a knife, then it was too time consuming to make for dinner. Except potatoes. Mom always peeled potatoes with a knife, which was clearly an outrageous misuse of time and product. Because so much potato ended up in the garbage along with the peelings, Mom ended up having to peel more potatoes than if she had used a vegetable peeler. Plus, peeling potatoes with a knife is so much slower than with a vegetable peeler. Yet, up until the time she peeled her last potato, she never used a vegetable peeler and every time she ever saw me use one she would say the same thing, “I don’t know how you can stand to use one of those things.” Sigh.
Sooooo, chopped salad. Everything gets cut up with a knife. However, I draw the line at cutting up or chopping items such as beans or corn. Seriously. I’ve read any number of recipes that include chopping beans or kernels of corn. Sure, if green beans are being used, chop those. But black beans or pinto beans or any other similar type of bean–why? They are already small enough. If the corn is still on the cob, well, heck yes, cut them off, but for heaven’s sake don’t chop them once they are off the cob!
Carrots? Maybe. Grating is also an option.
Black olives? Yes, a little bit.
Get the picture? Make big things smaller. If it’s already small, don’t make it smaller.
There is another rule attached to chopped salads. Generally speaking, there is only one type of dressing used per salad and it is tossed with the salad prior to serving time. Everything gets tossed and tumbled and mixed together so that every bite tends to be just like the one before it. I choose to break the rule and use the dressing on the side. At my house, I even offer different dressings because we have salad ‘moods’ around here; at least I do. Plus, I like the random taste fluctuations that come when something is not quite so homogenized.
When this post was originally conceived, it was just going to be about Thousand Island Dressing. I had been thinking about my Mom one day and remembered how she always made her own Thousand Island Dressing. No one else in the family ate it; Mom would pretty much have the whole thing to herself. She would start from scratch making her own mayonnaise. I’m not sure what she added to the dressing after that; I really ought to ask her some time. I wonder if she can actually remember how she made it.
Let me take one more slight tangent right here. If your mother is still alive and her memory is relatively intact, talk to her. Ask her all kinds of questions about her life and your life when you were little and about her recipes. Ask her all kinds of questions because I promise that when she is older (my mom turns 80 in a couple of weeks) the answers will not be the same as when she was younger. Memories often morph with age. When I hear some of the stories that my Mom tells me now, they are not quite the same as they were when Mom was younger. Now and again I will question my Mom about the accuracy of the new version of an old story and guess what–Mom says that I’m the one that’s cracked. “Terri, I don’t know what you are talking about. Things never happened that way!” She can be very convincing in her convictions and I start questioning the accuracy of my own memory. So, I tend not to ask too many questions any more–I’m afraid of the answers.
One more time, back to the salad. About the time I was experimenting with a recipe for Thousand Island Dressing, my husband asked me to make a seafood salad. No problem. The salad and the dressing are a great combination, very similar to a seafood Louie. Both are easy to assemble, although the salad takes longer to prepare namely because of the number of items which must be chopped or diced.
The measurements on the salad are approximate. The finished product will probably feed four people.