Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Totally Satisfying California Chopped Salad

It’s really easy to get caught up in food. There are days when poking around my frige is like going to some high end, fancy pants deli counter. Hearty stews, creamy pastas, meatloaf and other goodies all leftover from food blog heaven. It is on these days that the husband looks at me and shakes his head. I will admit my natural cooking inclination is not in the realm of tofu and bean sprouts. I have been very upfront about my addition to cheese and pasta and my new found obsession with baking bread has certainly not helped the waistlines. However, we do try to eat well in general so I present to you my California Chopped Salad. This recipe is one from the good for me but tastes fabulous column (and I am making a mental note to start sharing more of these kinds of dishes). It’s a spin off of a Giada recipe (le sigh, how I do love Giada). I’ve added some veggies to make it my own and you should absolutely do the same. But this is a delicious salad and it actually saves really well! So check out what is in season, break out that grill pan or griddler or fire up the big guy outside and set yourself up for a totally satisfying but healthy meal.

California Chopped Salad
(A Girl and Her Kitchen, Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 ear corn, husk and silk removed (can sub with 1/2 c frozen corn, thawed)
1 or 2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
1 large Portobello mushroom cap (or two smaller ones)
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
6 colossal or 12 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined (or more)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 head butter lettuce, torn (optional)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (or ½ - 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved)
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1 Hothouse (aka English) Cucumber, diced
1 carrot, peeled and then shredded using the peeler

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 juicy lemon)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of herbs de provence (optional)
1 small shallot, minced

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and agave nectar (or honey) until smooth. Add the shallot and mix well. Season with herbs de provence, salt and pepper, to taste.
For the salad: Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Drizzle olive oil over the romaine lettuce, corn, zucchini, bell pepper(s), mushroom and shrimp and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Grill the romaine lettuce, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 2 minutes.
Coarsely chop the grilled lettuce and add it to a large salad bowl.

Grill the corn, zucchini, bell peppers and mushroom for 2 minutes on all sides until crisp-tender (mushroom may take a bit longer). Remove the kernels from the corn and add to the salad bowl. Chop the zucchini, bell peppers and mushroom into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the bowl.
Grill the shrimp until the meat is opaque and cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch chunks.
Add the chopped shrimp, butter lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado to the bowl.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Enjoy!

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