Always a favorite of the country-club set, the chopped salad has entered the mainstream (you can get chopped salads at Quiznos, for instance). For the home cook, chopping your salad takes a little more work, but it's worth it: Chopping the salad allows flavors and textures to mingle in every bite instead of having to fish for flavors. And it's easy to eat with a fork or spoon. So get your knife ready for some serious chopping — TODAY contributor Elizabeth Mayhew shares her tips for a perfect chopped salad:
1. Remove all moisture from lettuce and vegetables before chopping, otherwise everything will get soggy because as you chop, you release more moisture. Heartier lettuces like iceberg and romaine work best for chopped salad. Most home cooks would overchop a lettuce like mesclun, and it would wilt.
2. Always remove seeds from tomatoes and cucumbers. For the cucumber, cut it lengthwise and scoop out the center with a spoon, right down the middle. For the plum tomatoes, quarter them lengthwise and cut out center core and seeds.
3. Try to chop all ingredients the same size.
4. You can chop ingredients ahead of time, but store them separately until you are ready to serve the salad.
5. Go light on the dressing: A little goes a long way on chopped salads, because so many flavors mix in every bite.