Y’all will probably get tired of hearing about it, but I’m going to Italy soon! We’ve got one of the BIGGIE anniversaries on March 18, and we’ll be in Venice to celebrate. Gotta admit I’m beyond excited — it’s one place I’ve always wanted to go and never been before. So, of course, I’ve been searching for Italian foods… Duh. (I’ve been assured by several recent visitors that I’ll be able to get at least *some* gluten free pasta, if not pizza.)
This recipe is officially called “Unforgettable Italian Chopped Salad,” one of those Pinterest, SEO type things that makes me a little crazy. And obviously I don’t know if it’s unforgettable before I make it… AND, let’s be honest, is a salad, as much as I love salads, likely to be actually unforgettable?!
- 1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
- 4 ounces Pecorino cheese, diced*
- 1/3 cup chopped or julienned fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds (I only had raw unsalted ones)
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
- 2 tablespoons everything bagel seasoning (I used Trader Joes)
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- balsamic glaze, homemade or store-bought
* I had a snafu with my online grocery order — I ordered a block of Pecorino Romano cheese, but the clerk put in grated. By the time I realized it, I didn’t have time to go to the store, but I had this Greek semi-hard salty cheese that worked fine. You could also use Asiago, Manchego, Mozzarella, Provolone, or even a mild Parmesan – an aged/salty cheese works best here.
In a salad bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, basil, sunflower seeds, and cheese. (I made half.) Sprinkle with the lemon juice and olive oil and toss. Add the Everything Bagel seasoning, salt and pepper and toss again. (NOTE: Most Everything Bagel mixes have sea or kosher salt in them, so I tasted mine before I added any more salt.) Not sure why you add these things in two batches – next time I’ll add it all at once.
Serve immediately, with a “generous drizzle” of balsamic glaze. I’m not a balsamic fan, so I dotted some on my salad, but didn’t do the generous drizzle — and could do without it, although it did mellow the lemon a bit.
RP Servings: Full recipe should serve 4 as a side, 2 as a main (add some protein)
RATING: 3+ — pretty good!
This is a nice change as a family dinner salad. It’s pretty, fresh, comes together fast, and puts together things we already like in a new way. For me, there’s too much cheese. I made half the recipe but used less than half the cheese, and it was still a lot. I might like it better if I grated it (large holes) rather than chunks. I needed more lemon juice and olive oil, too. Fresh mozzarella might be a lighter, less CHEESE cheese, and I think roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) would be nicer than sunflower seeds. But the great thing about salad is that you can tweak it every time, with whatever you have on hand! (Is it “unforgettable?” Ehhhh not really. But it’s good enough to put into the rotation!)