Nobody ever told me that growing up basically amounted to perpetually looking forward to the weekend every day that isn't the weekend. I mean, even on the weekend you're most likely looking forward to another weekend in the near future. You wake up Monday morning and look forward to the weekend ahead. And again on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. Even more so on Thursdays and Fridays circa 3pm. Once the weekend hits you're in your happy place for about 48 hours until you repeat the never ending cycle that is the reality of grown up life. Wah wah.
Luckily, I've perfected the recipe for the perfect weekend (at least in my book). It's gotta have about 40% of it dedicated to solid relaxation time, be it lounging in PJs playing phone games, listening to music or binge watching a new show on Netflix; 40% devoted to trying something new and fun, like trying a new brewery and/or restaurant, taking a day trip or getting some solid extrovert time in with friends; and 20% devoted to being productive AKA cleaning and meal prep. And I've come to realize, while it's the 80% of my weekends devoted to relaxing and trying new, exciting things that keeps me energized and going strong, it's the 20% of my weekend that I spend setting myself up for success the next week that I can't live without. Because, let's face it, if I don't have a clean apartment and lunches packed for the busy week ahead, it just makes the journey to the next weekend all the more miserable.
This meal prep wonder is one of my favorites for a weekend where I want to make something light and healthy for lunch during the week but I don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time doing it. I've been making this salad concoction for years, ever since I tried a very similarly prepared salad at a local pizza joint in Seattle, Pagliacci. The "Pagliacco Salad" is essentially an Italian chopped salad that not only tastes delicious but made me inspired to whip up something similar at home to add to the meal prep repertoire.
The combination of crunchy, sweet bell peppers, crisp red onion, salty salami and ham, rich garbanzos and tangy feta with a simple Dijon vinaigrette make this salad not only visually pleasing but pleasing to the taste buds. It's bright, fresh and hearty enough to satisfy your midday hunger even when you feel like eating anything but a salad (because sometimes we all feel like crying a bit inside when you know you're eating a salad for lunch instead of pizza). But rest assured, this salad is a favorite of mine for a reason. Just carve out some time for yourself this next weekend to make these impressive entree salads and you'll soon see why.
Italian Chopped Salad
Makes 4-6 entree-sized salads
- About 6 cups mixed spring greens or chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 bell peppers, diced – I used orange and yellow for color
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 6 oz black forest ham, chopped
- 4 oz salami, chopped
- 6 oz feta crumbles
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Start by making the dressing. I find the simplest and fastest way to make dressing is to grab a jar with a lid and just dump everything in, seal the lid and shake, shake, shake, baby! Combine Dijon, honey or agave nectar, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, balsamic and olive oil in a jar. Seal and shake until combined.
Assemble salads with remaining ingredients – there really is no order to how you assemble because you'll end up dressing it with your Dijon vinaigrette and tossing well until you have a lovely chopped salad. Enjoy! How easy was that?