Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hazy Shade of Winter - Italian Chopped Salad with Parma Crisps

Do you remember the song “Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon and Garfunkel? Um, I may be dating myself here. For those of you who belong to the generation(s) after me, you may recognize this song as it’s been remade by other groups. Here’s the You Tube address (I couldn't get the link function to work)to hear it in its original glory http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yheo2AgNywU ... go ahead and listen ... I’ll wait. Anyway ... I grew up listening to S&G’s music, and today I’ve been humming “Hazy Shade of Winter”. It started when the familiar hazy, gray, wintery sky clouded the view out of my window.This is what the heavens looked like at sunrise, midday, and until dusk. For those of us living west of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, that shrouded sky is overhead for most of Fall and Winter.

I miss the sun. There. I said it. Growing up in the Midwest, we had annual blizzards and whiteouts, but no matter how cold the mercury dipped, the sun came out and sparkled brightly through the icicles. Here in my adopted state, we have months and months of cloudy drizzle. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Oregon. It’s amazingly, awe inspiringly beautiful, but boy do I miss the sun on my face. I think I’m one of those folks who shut down when not exposed to sunlight. Yeah, I’d be the life of the party should we ever have a solar blocking event. Of course, the planet would be a fudgecicle, but .... oh I digress. See ... I need some SUN! Anybody else out there besides me really need sunshine in their lives?

Entering to my rescue and the depression that I’m spreading, is a lovely chopped salad that will crunch your winter blues away. It certainly lifted my spirits. It’s a meal all in one, and just bursting with flavor. Ironically, this is not something from my youth. Rather, I had it at a restaurant about 15 years ago, and fell in love with it. It’s great for brunch, and would definitely fit the bill for serving to guests. Join me now as we chase away the winter blues making a lovely Italian Chopped Salad.

First, get out a brightly colored bowl. This one is actually for pasta, but I love using it for BIG salads.Add some chopped, crunchy lettuce. Hearts of romaine and other crunchy lettuce types works well here. Truly, though, you can just use whatever is your favorite.Add some shredded Mozzarella cheese. And please, for my mental health’s sake, shred your own. By now you know my mantra ... the cheese you shred yourself tastes soooo much better than the prebagged shredded stuff. Really folks, it takes like a minute to shred your own.Add some shredded parmesan. Shredded works better than grated here.Now add some meat. I’ve chosen to add some cubed leftover grilled chicken.The big flavor boost in this salad comes from the salami. Thinly slice about 4-5 slices of the yummy stuff.A little red onion always adds a nice flavor punch to salads, and this one is no exception. A little dab will do ya here.For a texture and protein boost, add some chickpeas. For this salad, I lovingly sliced each one in half because I was photographing it. To be honest, leaving them whole would work just fine. So grab a can, drain and rinse the little babies, and pile them on.Red adds such a delightful color to salads, so a few sliced grape tomatoes were added.
Now, top with your favorite vinaigrette. I made mine using this lovely oil from Hania, Crete, Greece (Hi Maria!). Of course, you could use your favorite Italian salad dressing or simply toss with oil and vinegar.

I topped them with some homemade parmesan crisps. Have you ever made those? Oh, they are super simple to do. I’ve made them in the oven in the past, but tried them on the stove today. Super, super simple and wow, my family loved them.

Simply heat a NON-stick (that’s important) pan over med-high heat. Add a teaspoon of grated parmesan cheese and kind of pat it down a bit. The cheese will start to melt and bubble up.As soon as the bubbles get smaller and the edges start to turn golden, take the pan off the stove and let sit for about 3-4 minutes.Using a spatula, scoop up the crisps and set them on parchment paper or a paper plate to crisp up ... just a few minutes.You can also wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon as soon as you remove them and let them cool that way. They are the yummiest garnish. See how thin and crispy they are?
This works beautifully with pecorino romano cheese, too. You can leave them plain, or sprinkle with paprika (or chili powder) when done.YUM!

Now crunch the winter doldrums away with this gorgeous chopped salad with parma crisps. Take a bite and savor the flavor explosions.It will bring a smile to your face, for sure. Hello sunshine!My husband, who prefers plain, regular old dinner salads, proclaimed this to be very good, and could he please have some more. He usually refers to anything other than a dinner salad as a, and I quote, "fru-fru" salad. Today, though, he accused me to trying to starve him while I took photos before serving. he he.

Oh, and this salad is gluten free, all the way, baby!

22 comments:

Tatersmama said...

It's a warm summers day here in Oz, but this looks too good to pass up - at any time of the year!
I ate the last of the salami last night, but this looks worth popping out to the store for, so I'll let you know what I think, after dinner tonight!
I think my taste-buds are gonna thank you!

Pam said...

Oh Paula - I love that song. This salad is one of my favorites...I love your step by step pictures.

The sun will come soon!

Manggy said...

Ah, I'm glad to know you haven't shut down enough to not be able to make these lovely salads! The cheese is just the yummy icing on top :) (I'm going to have to find a tool to shred it with, though...)

Mediterranean kiwi said...

thaqnks for sharing your thoughts about the dull winter sky. despite the cold weather, we have a lot of sun in crete, which i now realise is a good thing, after reading blogs written by people who are hounded by cold weather until the early spring.

what a treat to see olive oil from hania in your photos! kolimvari is only a 20-minute drive away from our house (we've been invited out for lunch that way tomorrow - I'll see if i can get some photos of the area for you

by the way, great salad work!

noble pig said...

This does brighten up winter! I love it! Especially the garbanzo's! Yum!

Bellini Valli said...

Here in the Okanagan due to the inversion factor we are lucky to see the sun all winter as well. You can find it you head to a higher elevation and go skiing. Isn't there a song by the beatles...Here Comes the Sun!!!!! In the meantime we are both making salad. I made a salad with Parma crisps yesterday:D

OhioMom said...

Yummy looking salad there ... another who craves sun in the dark, dreary days of winter. Yesterday the sky looked like night all day long.

Cathy said...

I'm so ready for a big, tasty salad. I love what you've added to this one. Salami and garbanzo beans, yum.

Your parmesan crisps are the perfect thing to serve with the salad. Can't wait to try them.

Katherine Aucoin said...

Now that's a salad! I make those parm crisps too...any excuse because they are just that good.

Marjie said...

Great looking salad, but I'm really intrigued by those crisps. I love a nice, mild cheese with just a bit of bite to it!

Shannon has non-stop sunshine in Wyoming, too, and she gets really cranky, because it's overcast about half the time here. I tell here that's why it's luscious green here (when it's not sparkling white, of course), and rather grey-green in Wyoming. Then she whines. But I think the lack of sun in Oregon would depress me, too!

Bridgett said...

The parmesan crisps look gorgeous and super easy to make. I liked the step by step you did this time as well! With all the indulging over the holidays, I thankfully didn't gain weight, but I have this huge craving for healthy food. This would definitely fit the bill.

Cheryl said...

My mouth is watering, that looks soo good!!! YUM

Grace said...

"I miss the sun."

amen, and amen. :)
great salad, by the way, but the parmesan crips are a scene-stealer!

Aggie said...

I really really really like that salad!! Yum Paula!!!

The Blonde Duck said...

I actually shredded cheese for our salads the other day! I thought of you!

Pam said...

I would miss the sun too! What a great post..first I'm humming the some (we've both dated ourselves) and the salad looks great, and it reminds me that I want to try parmesan crisps!

Jan said...

That salad looks scrummy, and I love your parmesan crisps. I am so with you about shredding your own cheese, the pre-packaged stuff tastes like plastic.

Esi said...

I love this kinda salad. Especially after all the heavy foods lately. I haven't tried parm crisps, but I think I should hop on the bandwagon. Hopefully you will see a sunny day soon!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Paula, I'm so craving this with just one look!! I truely want to eat this right now!!

Dawn said...

OK, that seriously looks good right now. I always love a really well-made salad--just like this!

Deborah said...

Yeah, I could totally go for this salad right now. And some sunshine!!

Satchell said...

I made this to have with dinner this week. It was great. Thanks for sharing.