When Paul Newman and I agreed to open Dressing Room [in Connecticut], one of his first requests was that there always be a really good chopped salad on the menu. He loved an array of flavors and textures in each bite, and he could go on at length about what a pain it was to eat any salad that was not chopped.
In the spring we rely on raw peapods and asparagus, roasted nuts for crunch, and some kind of fruit such as strawberries and blueberries for the salad. We move to peaches in the summer and apples in the fall, looking for sweetness from both, and include some kind of great local cheese.
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 heirloom apple, such as Cox's Orange Pippin or Roxbury Russet, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup sliced treviso or radicchio
1 cup sliced arugula
1 cup thinly sliced Napa, Savoy, or other soft cabbage
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups crumbled local goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
Bring the vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery and carrots. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool. When the vinegar is cool, add the bell peppers. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
Strain the chilled vegetables through a sieve. Reserve the vinegar and the vegetables separately. Mix together the apple, cucumber, treviso, arugula, and cabbage in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved vinegar and the oil and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the goat cheese and almonds to the bowl and toss to mix. Divide among 6 small bowls or plates.
Excerpted from Sustainably Delicious by Michel Nischan, Rodale Books, 2010. Copyright © 2010 by Michel Nischan.