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The Ultimate Chopped Salad Chain Showdown

The Ultimate Chopped Salad Chain Showdown

When lunchtime rolls around, there’s no end to boring, unhealthy options. There are burgers, Chinese takeout, pizza, sandwiches, and plenty of other ways to put yourself into a food coma via a sad desk lunch even before you hit the 3 p.m. wall. But according to The New York Times, it’s chopped salad that reigns supreme in the Northeast, and the trend is making its way across the country.

The Ultimate Chopped Salad Chain Showdown (Slideshow)

From Chop’t to Just Salad to Saladworks and even to Subway, every week it seems like another chain comes along to offer us even more chopped salad options. But which one is the best? We put 10 of the country’s most popular chopped salad chains to the test, and one emerged as a clear winner.Sometimes a salad is the perfect way to get your lunch on. Vegetables for health and wellness, protein to fill you up, and enough food to nix your hunger but not put you in a food coma are all good reasons to consider it. Plus, in mixed company, salads are allergy- and vegan/vegetarian-friendly. Everyone wins!

Salads chopped to oblivion might sound kind of weird, but hear us out! Chopping the salad with a mezzaluna (a crescent moon-shaped blade with two handles, rocked >over produce to chop it) allows all the pieces to get coated evenly in your dressing, provides you with bite-sized pieces that are easy to eat, and allows you to get a bite of each topping in each bite. Some argue that the ideal salad is one in which there are large chunks of every component, so you can mix and match the flavors and textures with every bite, but the fact remains that there are lots of people who have jumped on the chopped salad bandwagon, and probably eat one every day of the week.

As the popularity of chopped salads has increased, the number of places that offer them has expanded nationwide. Some of the most recognizable names, Chop’t and Saladworks, have gone viral up the East Coast and beyond, while many remain regional favorites. We have ranked some of the most popular chains according to pricing (using the most popular pre-made salad, chicken Caesar), variety of add-ons, chopping method, customization, and green-ness of the chain. Click here to find out which chain came out on top.


The Ultimate Chopped Salad

Chopped Salad for the Meal Prep Win! Creamy dairy-free homemade dressing, an assortment of colorful veggies for texture, taste and nutrition!

Simple. Healthy. Delicious.

Well before I started my Health Coaching practice and long before I started writing this food blog, I was known as the chopped salad queen. Seriously, anytime I was invited to a dinner party, a BBQ, a GNO, a potluck, (you name it), I was always asked to bring salad. It was my signature dish. I suppose my friends saw my passion for sharing healthy food with others before I realized it was my calling.

I think the key to a good chopped salad is that the veggies are chopped. Sounds like a given, but I’ve ordered chopped salad at many a restaurant and had to go in there with my knife to be able to respectfully eat some of the pieces. I like to have a bit of everything in each bite. Don’t you?

The beauty here is that it doesn’t matter which veggies you choose to chop into your salad. Make sure there are plenty that will add crunch. That’s my favorite part about this salad. Nice and crunchy. Also, feel free to use whatever herbs you like most. Ordinarily I’d chop parsley, or mint….but, in these photos you’ll see basil that was stacked and julienne sliced because I just couldn’t resist the fresh basil growing in my garden. The aroma was intoxicating on my way to the mint.


Yield

For the chicken, combine olive oil, smoked sweet paprika, cumin, coriander, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, lime zest and juice in a plastic food storage bag. Add chicken and evenly coat in seasonings. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat a grill pan or an outdoor grill to medium-high. Grill chicken on both sides until cooked, about 5-6 minutes on each side. Let them rest while you assemble the rest of the salad. Once cooled, coarsely chop the chicken.

In a mixing bowl, combine grilled corn, black beans, lime juice, cilantro, onion, and radishes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

In a food processor bowl, add chipotle in adobo, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, cilantro, salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. While the food processor is going, stream in olive oil.

To a large serving bowl, add lettuce, bell pepper, and avocado. Using your hands, crumble in the tortilla chips. Add cheese, chopped chicken, grilled corn and black bean salsa, and salad dressing. Using tongs, toss everything together until well-combined.


Ultimate Winter Salad

Put the shredded kale in a very large salad bowl. Add lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Use your hands to massage the lemon juice and olive oil into the greens, about a minute or so. The greens should wilt slightly and take on a deep green color.

Add the other shredded vegetables/greens to the bowl as well as the chopped apple and pecans.

Make the dressing by combining all of the dressing ingredients in a lidded glass jar or canning jar. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds and then pour it over the salad. Mix well.

Add the crumbled goat cheese, butternut squash, and pomegranate arils on top. Serve.

Notes:
&bull To make the candied pecans, put the pecans in a small skillet with 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup and 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard. Cook on medium-low heat until nuts are toasted and sticky, 5-6 minutes. There shouldn&rsquot be any liquid left in the pan. Add a pinch of salt and remove from the pan to cool before adding them to the salad.
&bull To make roasted butternut squash, put the squash on a small baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and a pinch or two of sea salt. Roast at 425ºF until browned and soft, about 15&ndash20 minutes.

After a spate of indulgent food (especially during the holidays!), I&rsquom usually wanting fresher things to eat. But ones that don&rsquot take too long because I&rsquom still recovering from all of the preparation of said indulgent food.

And preparation for those big meals in general: It&rsquos all super fun, but a lot of work, you know?

My goal for this salad was to have something fresh, colorful, yet still hearty enough to stand alone as a meal. But not require a lot of chopping.

You&rsquoll be happy to hear that this salad checks all of those boxes&ndashincluding being seasonal.

(And you&rsquoll only have to chop an apple!)

The prepped vegetable trend I&rsquove been seeing more and more of is exciting to me. Now you can buy all kinds of vegetables chopped, shredded, cubed, and even spiralized. It&rsquos making it so much easier to up the amount of veggies in our diet!

I started this salad with some pre-shredded kale.

Have you ever had a massaged kale salad? Rubbing citrus and oil into kale makes the leaves softer and less bitter. I massage some lemon juice and oil into kale every time I plan on eating it raw. (Unless I&rsquom throwing a handful into a smoothie.)

I like to use extra-virgin olive oil for this. And you only need a small drizzle.

Use your hands to work the lemon juice and olive oil into the greens. You&rsquoll want to massage it for at least a full minute.

Maybe ask it how its day is going, too.

See the difference now? The kale should be wilted ever so slightly and deep green in color.

For this step, you can add whatever prepped or shredded vegetables you like. I added some shredded Brussels sprouts, carrots, and some cabbage slaw mix.

One of the things I like about this salad is that all of the greens are hearty, so after I dress the salad, it won&rsquot turn to slime overnight. Salads like this are great for meal prep!

I added a couple of chopped apples and made some candied pecans.

Candied nuts are super easy: I just threw them into a small skillet for 5&ndash6 minutes with a combination of maple and mustard to mimic the dressing (see recipe notes for instructions).

Speaking of dressing, this one&rsquos easy, too&mdasha simple maple-mustard vinaigrette. Just a few ingredients: red wine vinegar, whole grain or Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and some extra virgin olive oil. Easy, right?

Shake it up REALLY good. You can make this ahead of time, but if you chill it, the oil will solidify a bit. Just leave it out on the counter for an hour before you plan to use it or hold the jar under warm running water to loosen it up.

Pour it all over the salad!

At this point, you&rsquove got a solid salad. You could stop here if you like.

If you want to bump this up to ultimate level, add a few more things. These are totally optional, but I REALLY loved the combination.

I found some cranberry-coated goat cheese left over from the holidays so I crumbled it up and tossed it on top.

Totally smart move, by the way. Goat cheese was the perfect tangy addition to this salad. You can even use regular goat cheese.

I also had some leftover butternut squash cubes! (My favorite of the prepped vegetables. Dismantling a butternut is not for the faint of heart.)

So I roasted them and put those in there, too.

And for the finale: pomegranate arils. These are going out of season soon, if not already, so grab some if you see them! I love how jewel-like they are. Gosh, they&rsquore pretty.


Ultimate Recipe Showdown

Four great home cooks give their personal take on comfort food in this URS installation. In the signature round, the contestants have an hour and a half to cook up a feel-good dish. They don't have the luxury of time in the speed round, where they have to kick it to serve an equally delicious comfort food dish in just thirty minutes. Highest scoring recipe at the end of the competition will earn someone $25,000.

Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Party Foods, Season 3

From finger food to full on entrees, four amateur and adventurous cooks bring party food to the Showdown. In the signature round, the cooks have an hour and a half to impress the judges with their original party food recipe. In the speed round, the cooks only have thirty minutes to serve up a second dish. Highest scoring recipe at the end of the competition will earn someone $25,000.

Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Hot & Spicy, Season 3

The heat is on for four of the country's best home cooks in this fiery competition. In the signature round, the contestants have one hour to serve up a hot and spicy dish. The cooks have to up their game in the speed round, where they will have just thirty minutes to bang out a second hot and spicy creation. The highest scoring recipe from either round will earn one contestant $25,000.

Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Burgers, Season 3

Burgers are the battleground in this episode, but these are not your ordinary backyard burgers. Rather four home cooks elevate the regular burger to the level of art over two rounds. In the signature round, the contestants have an hour to grill up a burger showstopper. In the speed round, the cooks will have only thirty minutes to create yet another burger masterpiece. The highest scoring recipe from either round will earn one contestant $25,000.

Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Cakes & Desserts, Season 3

Four amateur bakers face-off in two classic categories: cakes and desserts. In the cake round, the contestants have two hours to bake up their best cake recipe. In the dessert round, the contestants have another two hours to wow the judges with a creative and delicious dessert. Highest scoring recipe at the end of the competition will earn someone $25,000.

Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Hometown Favorites, Season 3

Four amateur cooks come to the URS arena to show what hometown cooking is all about by whipping up local favorites. In the signature round, the cooks have one hour to create their down home masterpieces. The competition heats up in the speed round, where the contestants only have thirty minutes to crank out another hometown dish. Highest scoring recipe at the end of the competition will earn someone $25,000.


Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 bunch chopped kale (about 6 cups)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked farro
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups chopped apples (about 2-3 apples)
  • 4 ounces shredded Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon chopped shallot

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 394
  • Fat 24g
  • Satfat 6.6g
  • Monofat 6.7g
  • Polyfat 7.7g
  • Protein 11g
  • Carbohydrate 44g
  • Fiber 8g
  • Sugars 15g
  • Cholesterol 20mg
  • Iron 2mg
  • Sodium 602mg
  • Calcium 255mg

Ultimate Chopped Salad

A delicious, crisp chopped salad with loads of fresh veggies, perfect for serving up in the summer after a visit to the farmer’s market!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 whole romaine hearts
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 2 avocados, pitted and sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 mini cucumbers, cut into thirds and then diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Chop up the lettuce into small pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the fixings and toss with dressing of your choice.
  3. Transfer the salad and the fixings to a large salad bowl and serve immediately.

Notes

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 10
  • Calories: 176
  • Sugar: 6
  • Sodium: 113
  • Fat: 11
  • Saturated Fat: 3
  • Unsaturated Fat: 7
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 15
  • Protein: 8
  • Cholesterol: 65

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How to Make The Ultimate Detox Salad:

The componentry of this salad has a stellar nutrient profile. Like if you stumbled upon it on match.com you&rsquod be all &ldquothat&rsquos the one.&rdquo

Kale, red cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, broccoli, and parsley are all very dense in Vitamins K, A, C, and B6, folate, and fiber. They are all full of anti-oxidants, help lower cholesterol, regulate your blood sugar, and are said to prevent disease.

Walnuts add protein and additional antioxidants to the mix, and avocados provide the healthy fats to help your body absorb the nutrients from all the veggies. A lemon-mustard dressing seals the deal on this detox delight.

Basically, The Ultimate Detox Salad is all the good juju tossed together in a vibrant explosion of flavor and texture. Whether you&rsquore in a constant detox/re-tox cycle or are just looking for a crisp, fresh salad, this one&rsquos a hero in a half-shell.

If you&rsquore loving all up on this detox salad, be sure to check out my newly-released kale cookbook, Let Them Eat Kale! It&rsquos full of nutritious recipes that help cleanse your system and keep your body healthy and happy.


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I'd love to try chopping my salad sometime. shell4life December 20, 2012

I always like a bit of meat in my salad. I love those little cubes of ham that you see at salad bars, and I like real bacon bits, as opposed to the imitation kind that taste like burnt rubber!

If I order a grilled chicken salad, the strips of chicken usually come separately. At fast food restaurants, they put the chicken strips in a box and the salad in a plastic container. All of the veggies and the lettuce is chopped up inside the container, and you add some other stuff that has been packaged separately.

The croutons and slivered almonds or other nuts come in their own packages, as does the salad dressing. I believe this is so your salad doesn't get soggy if you have to drive for awhile before you get to eat it. OeKc05 December 19, 2012

I love visiting the salad bars of restaurants. I can build my own chopped salad from pre-sliced ingredients.

There are always shredded carrots, cucumber slices, and strips of bell pepper at my favorite salad bar. My favorite item by far is the baby corn, though. It has been pickled, so it has a lot of flavor, and the whole little cobs are a nice contrast to the sliced and chopped veggies. seag47 December 18, 2012

@summing – By far the best salad knife I've ever used is a ceramic knife. The blades are white and ultra sharp, so you have to be careful while handling them.

They make sharp cuts through everything from raw meat to lettuce. They are great for chopping up hard vegetables like carrots and potatoes.

Also, if you are chopping up a tomato with a ceramic knife, you won't make nearly as big of a mess as you would with a regular knife. The blade glides right through the skin to the flesh, so you aren't mashing it all up. feasting December 18, 2012

@ZsaZsa56 – I love raspberry vinaigrette dressing. It is really versatile, because it is just as good on a chopped tomato salad as it is on a fruit salad.

I first tried it on a salad with vegetables, and I was very impressed. The next time I had some was when I ordered a salad that contained lettuce, blueberries, strawberries, and grilled chicken, as well as sesame seeds and croutons. It brought all the flavors together in perfect harmony. summing December 17, 2012

Can someone recommend a knife to me for making chopped salad? I have an old cooking knife, but it has gotten so old and dull that it cannot hold an edge no matter how often you sharpen it. I feel like every time I make chopped salad I just mash everything up. So I need to buy a new knife. What would you guys recommend that I buy, particularly for cutting up lettuce and veggies? ZsaZsa56 December 17, 2012 What is your guys favorite chopped salad dressing? Personally, I like ranch or French. But then again, I like most salad dressings.

Sometimes I think I should switch it up more often, it is just too easy to get locked into what you know. Ivan83 December 16, 2012

I like to make chopped salad as a quick, after work meal. I will basically chop up anything that I have in my fridge. Peppers, squash, eggplant, it doesn't matter. I will mix it with some light balsamic vinegar and eat it with a piece of crusty bread. It is delicious, filing, and most importantly, healthy. Ted41 December 7, 2012

I personally think it's great, because I really like to have some healthy options when I go out to eat. betterment December 6, 2012

@LoriCharlie - I usually like to add a sliced avocado to my chopped salads when I make them at home. Nothing tastes better on top of a chopped vegetable salad than a fresh avocado, and also, if you add an avocado you can leave out the meat. Avocados are very filling on their own. LoriCharlie December 5, 2012

I feel like most cold salad recipes are, in fact, recipes for a chopped salad. Most salads include various chopped fresh produce. Even if you're not going to chop the lettuce, most people cut up various kinds of vegetables like onions or tomatoes and add them to the salad.

I also usually add meat and some kind of cheese to my salads (goat cheese is my favorite) but everyone has different preferences. christym September 12, 2010

For salads that have a lot of lettuce in them, it is a great idea to use a salad spinner to make sure that all of the excess water is removed. Lettuce holds a lot of water in it and can end up watering down your salad. calabama71 September 12, 2010

@stormyknight: There is no specific kind of lettuce that must be used. However, most Italian salads use romaine lettuce. I have a recipe for an Italian salad that uses romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce. They taste really good together.

For this particular salad, you need 1 head iceberg lettuce, 2 heads romaine lettuce, 3 cups spring mix, 4 Roma tomatoes (chopped), 1 ½ cups gorgonzola (crumbled), 1 cup cooked bacon (crumbled), ½ red onion (finely chopped) and 3 avocados (chopped).

Chop all of your lettuce well and add the other ingredients. Toss well and serve.

I would like to make an Italian chopped salad for some guests this weekend. What kind of lettuce would I use for that?


Quick Salad Recipes You Can Make for Dinner on Busy Weeknights

Whether you like steak in your salad or prefer a vegetarian meal, we've got you covered in the event that you'd like to make salad for dinner. These quick weeknight-ready salad recipes star all kinds of protein, many different types of salad leaves, a variety of other vegetables, and all kinds of tasty add-ins, from fresh herbs to tortilla chips to hard-boiled eggs. Simply put, we have a variety of delicious salad recipes that come together in a flash, which means there's always one you can make for a weeknight dinner.

When it comes to a meaty salad, beef can't be beaten. Our recipes make good use of cheaper cuts of steak, like flank, so you can have steak salad on a weeknight. Chicken is a favorite of families everywhere, and it's plain to see why: It's an easy-going protein that works so well in so many different salad recipes, including a straightforward grilled chicken salad to a many-layered taco salad. But think beyond the basics, too. We adore salmon with salad, as seen in the recipe here, and other types of fish&mdashboth fresh and canned. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in our entrée salad recipes, including hearty mains that are bulked up with mushrooms, beans, and quinoa.

Romaine, baby spinach, arugula, and butter lettuce are just a few of the many greens available all year round, which means you can have a fresh, satisfying salad for dinner during any season. We do have salad recipes specifically for winter, though. One test-kitchen tip is to use roasted vegetables&mdashthey are a really good addition to salad when the weather is cold and your favorite tomatoes aren't as tasty as they are in the peak of summer.

Some say the dressing makes the salad. We're not entirely sure we agree with that, but we do agree that dressing can take a salad from good to great. And the options are endless creamy buttermilk, warm tomato vinaigrette, tropical dressings with pineapple, and Asian-accented dressings made with fish sauce and lime juice&mdashthey're all here, paired with the right combination of vegetables, leaves, and proteins to make your dinnertime salad routine a snap.


Watch the video: We Tried 11 Fast Food Salad Chains. Heres The Best One (December 2021).