CSA Week 8: How to Make the Perfect Chopped Salad

This easy-to-make salad is the perfect dinner for a hot summer night.

I didn’t mean to make so many salads. It just sort of happened! But it was a happy occurrence since the salads were delicious, and I didn’t collapse from heat stroke just trying to get dinner on the table. Making salads was also a great way to use up a lot of what we got in our week 8 farm share. Let’s take a look!

Week 8 Haul:

  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers
  • Summer squash
  • String beans
  • Red cabbage
  • Bok choy
  • Bianca onions

What Rolled Over?

The cabbage — and that was on purpose. Midway through Week 7, I saw a recipe for a spicy Thai pork tenderloin salad in the New York Times that I wanted to try; it even called for cabbage, a small head of which was sitting in my refrigerator. But I’d already used up the bell pepper we got in week 7, so I decided to save the cabbage for the arrival of more bell peppers. Of course, cabbage has a fairly long shelf-life compared to, say, cucumbers, so I knew the wait wouldn’t result in rotted vegetables. And, in fact, the wait netted me a red cabbage that I shredded up and mixed in with the green one for some extra color. My gamble paid off!

Tomato Count

This week: 20

Season to date: 24

I know what you’re thinking: 20 tomatoes in one week?! It was totally manageable — we got one medium tomato and a pint of mixed small fruit tomatoes.

What I Made (Italics represent CSA vegetables used)

  • Banh-mi bar with cucumbers, tomatoes, red cabbage, jalapeno, mint, cilantro, pickled shallots and grilled chicken
  • Spicy Thai pork tenderloin salad with red and green cabbage, cucumbers, bell peppers
  • Chopped salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, summer squash, basil, bell peppers, bianca onions, grilled chicken and white beans
  • Teriyaki chicken, sesame string beans, sautéed bok choy, red cabbage and bianca onions and jasmine rice
  • Summer squash, bianca onions and stelline pasta with chicken sausage

Technique of the Week: Make Vegetables the Star of the Show

Now that we’re into August, things are really heating up — on the farm and in my home. The vegetables are starting to arrive in larger quantities, right at the time when the last thing I want to do is stand over a hot stove.

So I didn’t! Instead, in Week 8, I made a lot of dinner salads, as well as a Friday night dinner sandwich bar. There was some cooking involved, in that they all had a meat element to them, but grilling a piece of chicken takes so little time that I don’t mind the few minutes spent over the stove.

The other benefit of the dinner salads was that they used up a lot of our haul, which meant less risk of food waste, which is a threat that always looms when you’re in a CSA.

Standout Meal of the Week: Chopped Salad Recipe

I’m gonna level with you: The spicy Thai pork salad from the Times was delicious, but I didn’t award it the Standout Meal of the Week medal because it involved so much work! Making a salad shouldn’t be an all-day affair.

The problem was that the marinade, which also doubled as the dressing, was a total pain in the rear to make. It involved a lot of tools ranging from a zester to a reamer to a mini food processor. Too much work, too much clean up. Never again. Good pork loin, though.

Instead, I decided to make this pretty little chopped salad this week’s star. Back in Week 3 I talked about chopped salads: The best way to make them is to cube all of the elements into relatively uniform ½” – 1″ pieces and toss with dressing and fresh herbs if you’ve got them.

For this chopped salad, I used a combination of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, summer squash, basil, bell peppers, bianca onions, grilled chicken and white beans, which I dressed with a simple dressing, a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. You can, of course, use any dressing you like — something spicy or creamy — but I like the cleanness of the lemon and olive oil so that the bright flavors of summertime vegetables can really shine.

Join me here each week, as well as on Twitter and Instagram, as I wash, chop, cook and eat my way through my CSA using the hashtag #CSASurvival. Got questions for me? Ask away!