Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Classic Chef Salad

Do you ever have those nights when you want something that's light, but still substantial for dinner? I'm not talking about rice cakes and a glass of water. Ummm... not feelin' that. Ever. I might not be in the mood for a big juicy steak or a heaping bowl of pasta, but I still want something with flavor and texture. And I want something that's going to hold me over 'til the next morning. Around here, on a night like that, dinner is a no-brainer... I just whip up a big Chef Salad.

I think it's safe to say that I'm addicted to salad. No. Really. If I haven't had a big plate or bowl of some sort of leafy greens and crisp veggies in the space of oh, let's say... two days, I'll start to crave it. I might even obsess about it a little. OK. A lot. And on the rare occasion that I run out of lettuce or other typical salad veggies, I have been known to panic. This obsession with salad isn't a new thing for me, either. I've felt this way about it for as far back as I can remember. Go figure, huh? A kid who begs asks for more vegetables?

Classic Chef Salad
  • 1 Head of Iceberg, Romaine or mix of Lettuces
  • 1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Medium Tomato, sliced
  • Assorted Deli Meats and Cheeses
  • Assorted Olives/Giardinara
  • Hard Boiled Eggs (I was out of eggs on this particular day)
  • Salad Dressing - homemade or store bought (My homemade Buttermilk Dressing recipe HERE)

I ask my deli person to slice the meats for a chef salad relatively thick. ...I'd say, somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick "slabs". The only exception I make in that regard, is when I'm planning to use cured meats like salami or pepparoni. In that case, I'll have them slice it thinner, more or less the way I would normally order it for sandwiches. I find that those types of meats can be a little chewy or tough when they're sliced too thickly. The deli people always tell me the number they've used on the slicer, but do you think I remember that the next time I go? Of course not. I should probably write it all down and keep it in my wallet, right?

We like our roast beef on the rare side, so I like to keep it on a separate plate. That way, the "juices" don't run into or get absorbed by the other meats and cheeses. If you prefer a more well done beef, this shouldn't be a problem.
I always have a jar of some kind of homemade dressing in the fridge and on this particular night it happened to be my Buttermilk Herb dressing. When I'm feeding a crowd, I'll put out a variety of homemade and store bought dressings, so that everyone's tastes are covered.
I love the fact that most grocery stores now offer a salad bar or bulk style selection of fresh and marinated olives, mushrooms, cheeses and other veggies in or near the deli department. This way, I can pick and choose a smaller variety of the things we like and I no longer have a plethora of open jars crowding up my fridge that will eventually end up being tossed out because we didn't use them in a certain period of time. I mean, who likes fuzzy olives?
I usually lay everything out on the kitchen counter and hubbs and I just help ourselves to what we want. But, if you're feeding a crowd at a buffet style dinner or lunch and don't have the room to do this, just find the biggest salad bowl or platter you have and arrange everything nicely on top of your greens.
One of my favorite things to serve alongside a "dinner salad" is Naan or Pita bread. The beauty of these breads is that when they're cut in half, they create open "pockets" that can be filled with greens, veggies and meat from the salad or used to sop up any extra dressing on your plate.


If you would like more salad dressing recipes, including  Basic Vinaigrette, Garlic Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, Classic Caesar and more, check out my "Salad Dressing Bootcamp" post, HERE.

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  1. I'm a salad lover as well and I've pinned your dressing to give it a try. Thanks!

  2. Hey, Mary! I didn't realize you could just ask them to slice the deli meats to a thickness different from what's in the case! That's definitely something to keep in mind for my next trip to the grocery store! My husband is a HUGE salad lover. I make one to accompany his dinner each evening. He would lust after this salad with thick slices of chicken. (Cholesterol problem...has to watch that beef intake. Can you believe that? In MISSOURI??!?!! We're KNOWN for our beef here!!!!!!!) I usually just prepare the chicken at home, but there are those days when time slips away or you just don't have it in ya to go there, so this is good to know! And yes...I'll remember the number once they get it just right! :-)

    I'll check out your Salad Dressing Bootcamp. Salad dressing is so expensive sometimes and SO salt-laden. I want to be able to make my own and control the amount of salt that goes into it.

    1. Hi Alycia! Yup. I've found that if you tell them that you're using it for a chef salad, most of the deli people have a pretty good idea what you're looking for. As far as the beef goes, there are lots of brands that make a low fat, low sodium roast beef and they'll tell you what the cholesterol percentage is, if you ask. If your deli has it, the Thin and Trim brand is really tasty and very lean. I actually started making my own dressings because the sodium and sugar content in most of the bottled dressings is so high. I hope you can find a dressing that suits your tastes. If I had absolutely no willpower, I'd eat the honey balsamic dressing with a spoon. lol Let me know if you try one of them, OK? XO


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