August 2, 2018

A Stetson Chopped Salad Surprise. {Recipe}

It is another scorcher of a day today.

A chalkboard sign just said the temperature is somewhere between OMG and WTF. During these steamy, lazy days, the last thing we want to do is cook. So when I find an easy, delicious dish, I share.

Yet, not everyone shares.

The chunky chocolate chip cookie recipe my neighbor knows by heart will go with her to her grave. I have been scolded for asking for it one too many times, but will probably keep asking for it until the day I go to my grave. And restaurants are the worst (or maybe the best). Many chefs will not share either. This ensures we’ll continually return for the meal without slaving in a hot kitchen or dish duty—a win/win, I suppose.

However on vacation years ago, I had just finished eating the most colorful, light, and delicious looking salad, and I had to find out the scoop on how it was made.

Being hesitant to ask for it directly, I cheerfully said to the server,“This salad is amazing! I would love to know the recipe or even get just a few clues as to what is in this dressing.”

She said nothing and walked away.

But when our bill came later that evening, I giggled at the size of the long register slip. It could have been worn as a belt. Leaning in closer, I saw numbers, measurements—ingredients! It was my lucky day. The narrow ream of paper had the recipe printed on it.

I was elated. And the server smiled like she had just thrown the best surprise party. Obviously, the chef, owners, and she are my kind of people. They share.

So without any further ado, may I introduce the:

Stetson Chopped Salad

Inspired by Cowboy Ciao, Scottsdale, Arizona.


2 oz. Pearl or Israeli couscous, or gluten-free equivalent

2 oz. Homegrown arugula, chopped

2 oz. Organic roma tomatoes, chopped

1 ½ oz. Smoked sustainable salmon (Optional: check the Seafood Watch for sustainability information.) 

½ oz. Asiago cheese, or favorite flavored vegan cheese

½ tsp. Homemade toasted pepitas

½ oz. Black currants

1 oz. Super sweet dried corn

On a large plate, make rainbow-like stripes of each of the above ingredients. The order and color combination is up to you and your creativity. 

Pesto Dressing:

½ c. Pesto

1 Shallot, roughly chopped

1 c. Aioli, or vegan alternative

1 c. Organic, grass-fed buttermilk* or 1/2 cup cultured coconut milk (aka coconut yogurt)

½ tsp. Black pepper

½ Lemon, juice only

Salt & pepper to taste

Add the first three ingredients to a food processor and blend thoroughly. With the motor running, pour in *buttermilk. Add remaining ingredients to combine. Store in refrigerator. Drizzle over the salad before serving.

Note: *Another substitute for buttermilk may be made by using your favorite (unsweetened, plain) nondairy milk. Add 1 tsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for every one cup of nondairy milk. Let it sit a few minutes before adding to the recipe.

Yeehaw! Throw your Stetson hat (real or imaginary) in the air, for you have just made one simple, crowd-pleasing, and pretty summer meal.

Thank you to Cowboy Ciao for their spirit of community. My community adores our lingering tastes from our trip. May others follow your lead.

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” ~ Charlotte Brontë


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