A hearty, veggie-packed chopped salad recipe with a tangy lemon + tahini dressing. This recipe makes about five cups of chopped salad, and is perfect for two servings.
Chopped salad recipes can vary quite a bit, but this is my favorite version for this spring. It has tons of crunchy, fresh ingredients like romaine lettuce, fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onions, crunchy chickpeas, fresh dill, and more!
I love to whip up a creamy, fresh lemon and tahini dressing for this salad recipe, but you are more than welcome to use your favorite dressing instead. Make the dressing first so the ingredients can have some time to sit and blend together while you chop all of the salad ingredients, and it will taste even better!
The key to a perfect chopped salad is cutting all of the ingredients into equal-sized pieces. I refer to the cuts in this salad as a “dice”, because a dice is considered a bit smaller than a chop in technical terms. Regardless of what you want to call it, I cut everything into as close to a 1/2″ sized piece as possible, which allows more of the ingredients to fit into one bite! A chopped salad gets its name because of this technique, so it’s important to try to make all pieces small and relatively equal in size.
- 4 cups diced Romaine Lettuce
- 1/2 cup diced Cherry Tomatoes
- 1/3 cup diced Cucumber
- 1/3 cup diced Orange Bell Pepper * (red or yellow bell pepper work, too)
- 1/4 cup diced Red Onion
- 1/4 cup diced Pepperoni
- 1/4 cup diced Green Onions
- 1/4 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
- 1 Avocado, pit removed and flesh diced
- 1/2 cup crunchy baked Chickpeas * (recipe and alternatives follow)
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh Dill
- 1/3 cup Lemon Tahini Dressing * (recipe follows)
* Orange Bell Pepper: Red bell pepper or yellow bell pepper are perfect swaps. You can use green bell pepper if preferred, but the flavor isn’t quite as sweet as the others.
* Crunchy Chickpeas: Keep scrolling a little to see how I make these. They do take some effort and time, but they’re delicious! If you’d rather keep this salad recipe easy, swap the chickpeas for Crushed Pita Chips (even garlic parmesan flavored pita chips), French Fried Onions (for extra saltiness), or Toasted Nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds are all great!)
* Lemon Tahini Dressing: The dressing I love to use is a pretty simple homemade dressing with shallots, creamy tahini, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and dijon mustard. It’s tangy, creamy, and perfectly compliments this chopped salad recipe. However, you are totally welcome to use your favorite dressing like a balsamic vinaigrette, ranch dressing, or a creamy herbed dressing!
Lemon Tahini Dressing Ingredients
- 1 small Shallot, finely chopped (about 3 tbsp.)
- ½ Lemon, juiced (about 1 tbsp.)
- Salt & freshly cracked Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp. good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp. Tahini
- 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
- 2 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
- ¼ tsp. dried Oregano (or 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh Oregano)
- ¼ tsp. Garlic Powder
If you’re wondering what tahini is, think of it as a type of creamy paste (similar to peanut butter) that is made from toasted sesame seeds. It has this warm, toasty flavor and a super creamy texture. Tahini is a great ingredient to use in salad dressings, and it pairs so well with the other ingredients in this salad dressing recipe! Sometimes you can find it near the peanut butter / other nut butters at the store, or near the olives!
These extra crispy chickpeas add another layer of crunch to this chopped salad! These are pretty easy to make, but they do require some extra time to prep. You’ll need a can of chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained. Spread them out over a kitchen towel and remove as many of their outer layers (skins) as possible. Allow them to totally dry, then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Toss the chickpeas with a tablespoon of avocado oil and a generous pinch of salt. Cook the chickpeas in a 425 F oven for 20-25 minutes until they’re golden and crispy. Immediately toss them with 1/2 teaspoon each of smoked paprika and garlic powder, then set aside to cool.
If you’re short on time (or you don’t really care about the chickpea part), there’s a couple of alternatives you can use instead!
- Crumbled Pita Chips use a garlic parmesan flavored pita chip for extra flavor!
- French Fried Onions for an extra pop of salt, flavor, and crunch.
- Toasted Nuts like pecans, walnuts, or almonds.
If you’re using any of these substitutes, toss them into the salad just before serving. The dressing could make them soggy if they are tossed into the salad to start, so wait to add them. You could also sprinkle any of them over the top of the salad before serving if you would rather not have them mixed into it!
How to Make a Crunchy Chopped Salad
- Make the Dressing: Stir shallots, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes, stir in Dijon, red wine vinegar, tahini, olive oil, oregano, and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. (We do this first so the flavors have ample time to blend together.)
- Make the Chickpeas: (optional: alternatives are crunchy pita chips, french fried onions, or toasted nuts. See notes above if using any of these swaps.) Thoroughly drain and rinse one can of chickpeas. Spread them out onto a kitchen towel and remove as many of the shells (skins) as possible. Allow to thoroughly dry, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss chickpeas with a tablespoon of avocado oil and a generous pinch of salt, then cook at 425 F for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy. Toss with 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder and smoked paprika, then set aside to cool. Note: Use one teaspoon of your favorite seasoning blend rather than garlic powder and smoked paprika if preferred.
- Make the Salad: Pour half of the dressing into a large bowl (grab a bowl that is larger than you think you need; you’ll thank yourself when tossing everything together.) Add the first eight ingredients: romaine lettuce, red onion, cucumber, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, pepperoni, green onions, and feta cheese. Toss to thoroughly combine.
- Finish the Salad: Add remaining dressing, chickpeas (or alternative), avocado, and a generous pinch of flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Toss to combine and serve immediately.
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