A chopped salad is a salad that includes ingredients which have been chopped to be uniform and then either composed or tossed, depending on the style of the salad. Many people associate the concept with American interpretations of Mediterranean cuisine, where salads often include an assortment of fresh chopped vegetables on a bed of greens. Many restaurants offer these salads, and they are also a common offering at salad bars. They are also easy to make at home, as well.
Common ingredients in a chopped salad include onions, bell peppers, olives, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cold meats like grilled chicken, pickled peppers, cooked legumes, pickled beets, greens such as romaine or spinach, and cheeses. Depending on the stylistic choice of the person who makes the salad, all of the ingredients may be chopped to create a very uniform look and texture, or some of the ingredients may be cut up while others are left larger; classically, for example, chopped vegetables can be served on a bed of whole lettuce leaves.
The salad may be garnished with things like shredded or crumbled cheese, fresh herbs, or sprouts. The salad is typically drizzled with dressing before it is served, and it may be tossed to integrate all of the ingredients or left in a composed form, in which case the ingredients may be carefully arrange to create stripes or other patterns of color.
The crucial thing about a chopped salad is that it must contain fresh produce. It may also include preserved ingredients, cold grilled meats, and cheeses, but the bulk of the salad typically consists of fresh fruits and vegetables. The flavor can be adjusted with the addition of things like chopped pears or persimmons to make the salad more complex and interesting, and a wide variety of dressings may be used to bring out the flavors of the ingredients.
The chopped salad is particularly popular in Los Angeles, California, where it is often available at restaurants. These salads are also offered at many chain restaurants, perhaps because the ingredients are easy to prepare ahead of time in large amounts, and people can assemble their own at salad bars. People who want to make their own at home should feel free to use whichever ingredients they like, and should not feel obligated to chop everything. More texture and visual interest can be added by including things like crumbled fried noodles, whole leaves of greens, and entire cherry tomatoes.