The season of backyard parties has kicked into full swing and I have been lamenting over the disappearance of the six-foot Italian sub. If you grew up in the New York metropolitan area, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This mega-sandwich served up on a long, narrow wooden board and delivered wrapped in colored cellophane, was ubiquitous at every summer birthday party, graduation event and family gathering. There would be salami, ham, turkey, provolone, pepperoncini, lettuce, tomato and onion layered between two red wine vinaigrette soaked, six-foot long slices of crusty Italian bread. The sub was sliced crosswise about every two-inches and held together with toothpicks. This was party food at it’s best, hand-held, fairly nutritious, crowd-pleasing and served at room temperature after being delivered by the local Italian deli.
With the Italian sub holding a special place of honor in my memories, it will come as no surprise that I just couldn’t wait to try the recipe posted last week on Smitten Kitchen. Nancy’s Chopped Salad is an Italian sub in a bowl (minus the bread which miraculously you won’t miss). It has all the sandwich goodies chopped and tossed with a tangy, garlicky, oregano-laced vinaigrette. Each bite, a forkful of yumminess. I served it at an end-of-the season lacrosse party this past weekend and was left with a couple of chickpeas drowning at the bottom of my great big wooden bowl.
But before I share the recipe, I have a confession to make…I almost didn’t write this post. You should read that as an indication of just how much I love this salad and how I want to bring it to every pot luck this summer as “my own.” Selfish, I know. Not very “Sly Rooster-ish.” So, run–don’t walk–to the grocery store and pick up these ingredients today. Make this salad and let me know what your family and friends think. I guarantee that they will love it as much as mine. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, you can refer to it as “Dani’s Chopped Salad.” Enjoy!
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 Tbls dried oregano
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- juice of 1 lemon (2-3 Tbls)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil, ideally extra-virgin
- 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas
- 1 small red onion, peeled, quartered and sliced paper-thin
- 1/2 lb provolone (aged is best), sliced into 1/8" thick and then cut into 1/4" ribbons
- 1/2 lb salami, sliced into 1/8" thick and then cut into 1/4" ribbons
- 4 medium or 8 small pepperoncini, sliced into rings
- 3/4 lb cherry tomatoes
- kosher salt
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, halved, cored and cut into 1/2" thick ribbons
- 1 head radicchio, halved, cored and cut into 1/4" ribbons
- 1 Tbls dried oregano, for garnish
- Roughly chop the garlic and then add the oregano, salt and up to 1/2 tsp ground pepper.
- Chop the mixture together and use the side of the 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 whisk allowing the salt to dissolve, then add the oil in a steady stream, whisking to combine. The dressing should be thick with garlic and oregano.
- If you're using a small head of iceberg, transfer 1/3 of the dressing into a jar to be used only if needed (or saved for a later date). For a larger head of iceberg, you'll want it all.
- 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 tsp salt. Set aside until ready 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.