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!