nina | September 13th, 2012 - 9:00 am

It’s the chopped salad, and it’s having a field day in Baltimore. Some restaurants were so successful that this item has been put on the permanent dinner menu.

The chopped salad has always had its fans.  The “Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad, named by Paul Newman, remains a favorite at the restaurant, where it’s created out of seasonal ingredients — in late summer, it’s plums, baby carrots, yellow wax beans, Beltane goat cheese and toasted almonds. 

Baltimore is one of the few cities where the chopped salad inspires memories of fine dining. For decades, a salad of iceberg lettuce, egg, tomato and anchovy, chopped tableside by a stiff-backed waiter has been served at a very famous Baltimore restaurant.

But the chopped salad has seldom been a chef’s calling card. Its culinary pedigree is spotty, related on one side to idle society luncheons and on the other to the so-called garbage salad, a pile of iceberg lettuce, salami, shrimp and mozzarella — It has even been called “a cocktail party in a bowl.”

The chopped salad is not something a chef would stake his culinary reputation on.

At casual Baltimore joints like Bagby Pizza, they make a meat-free version with asparagus, squash, carrots and tomato.

The chopped salads were introduced to Sascha’s lunch operation not long ago. At Sascha’s lunch counter, one customer might art-direct a salad with curried chicken salad, bacon, egg and blue cheese. The next person might go light with grilled chicken, mushrooms, cucumbers and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s a very democratic process.

A trained professional takes the ingredients and works them over with a mezzaluna, a two-handled knife that gets rocked back and forth over the ingredients. The result is a finely chopped, but not minced, salad.

Although working with a mezzaluna takes some practice, it’s worth the trouble. The technique delivers a better final product than a salad that is not chopped, all the favors of the different vegetables, ingredients and dressing really get intermingled.

A chopped salad is easier to eat – Even with a spoon, if you’d like!

Source:, 9/12/12

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