nancy’s chopped salad

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Nancy’s Chopped Salad
Adapted mostly from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton, Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno, brought to my attention by Gluten-Free Girl (thanks!)

I realize that chopping half a pound of salami and cheese into a salad is probably not on most of our swimsuit season agendas, but it’s worth considering that the proportions below will make 6 meal-sized salads (I couldn’t eat a bite more than one portion, either night we had this) and if you’re still nervous, I think you could easily use half the salami and cheese, and not miss a whole lot. Provolone comes softer (less aged, more typical on sandwiches) and more firm (aged, with a sharper saltier flavor). I used an aged provolone; if doing so, I recommend starting with half the recommended cheese so it doesn’t overwhelm. If you’re lucky enough to have or be somewhere that you can readily purchase Sicilian Oregano, it is absolutely amazing here. Finally, Silverton calls for a small head of iceberg, but when I used one, I found there to be more dressing than needed. I’d instead recommend a larger head of iceberg, or holding back some vinaigrette to add only if needed.

By the way, almost every instance of this recipe I’ve seen online and in print uses different quantities and size suggestions (1/2-inch wide ribbons vs. 1/4-inch, thin slices versus thick, small vs. large heads of lettuce, more or less chickpeas), which means you especially should feel free to adjust everything below to taste. Save a few adjustments (see above), I made it as printed below.

Makes 6 meal-sized salad or 12 side portions

Oregano dressing
4 cloves garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons dried oregano (Nancy recommends 2; I got nervous and used 1, but might not have minded more)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, ideally extra-virgin

Salad and assembly
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into paper-thin rings
1/2 pound provolone (see Note about varieties), sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
1/2 pound salami, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
4 medium or 8 small pickled pepperoncini, sliced into rings
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes
Sea salt
1 head iceberg lettuce (see Note about size), halved, cored, and cut in 1/2-inch ribbons
1 head radicchio, halved, cored and cut in 1/4-inch ribbons
2 tablespoons dried oregano for garnish (optional)

Make dressing: Roughly chop the garlic and then add the oregano, salt and up to 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Chop the mixture together and use the side of a knife or a mortar and pestle to make a grainy herb paste. Transfer the paste to a large salad bowl, and add the lemon juice and vinegar. Mix with a fork allowing the salt to dissolve, then add the oil and whisk with a fork until well combined. The dressing should be thick with garlic and oregano. If you’re using a small head of iceberg, transfer 1/3 the dressing into a small bowl to be used only if needed. For a larger head of iceberg, you’ll want it all.

Assemble salad: Gently fold the chickpeas, red onion, provolone, salami, pepperoncini (including seeds and juice) into the dressing, one at a time. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt. Set aside until ready to serve.

To serve: When ready to serve, gently add the tomatoes, lettuce and radicchio to the salad bowl, along with a couple of generous pinches of oregano, and toss to combine with the dressing. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding any reserved dressing if needed. Serve immediately.

Sicilian Oregano Sources: It’s definitely available online here and here. If you’re in NYC, I bought the jar you see here at Brooklyn Larder a year or two ago for about $7. However, I was over at Buon Italia in Chelsea Market today (6/5) and they sell, well, almost a tree of the stuff, easily 10 times what was in that jar, for all of $4.50. Buy it and share it with all of your friends!


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