Recently I’ve become sort of borderline addicted to those chopped salad kits at the grocery store. The thin-cut strips of hearty kale and crisp cabbage mixed with crunchy toppings make the whole salad for dinner thing surprisingly satisfying. As much as I enjoy the two whole flavors my local produce section offers I’m beginning to feel a little like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day. Plus, the environmentalist in me suffers a small twinge of guilt every time I ripped open one of those plastic bags.
Salad, really? I can’t make my own salad? How did we get here?
Sad to say after twenty months of motherhood I still have not gotten my groove back in the kitchen. My sweet little dumpling of a toddler continues to make putting together even the most simple of meals an act of culinary wizardry.
So, yeah, salad in bags is a pretty regular thing in our house – but ever since I tried (and loved) my first chopped salad I knew I had to try making some of my own. This week I finally got my chance. This colorful slaw of a salad starts off with a base of shredded cabbage and latacino (dinosaur) kale. I added shredded carrots, sliced scallion, and red bell pepper, then dressed the whole thing in a simple soy and sesame vinaigrette.
I must admit to being a little surprised at how much better this was than the bagged chopped salad I’ve been eating. I forgot how dry and bland the veggies in those bags are compared to something freshly chopped. It turns out making my own was totally worth the effort.
Mandarin Sesame Chopped Salad
Makes about two 2-cup servings
The real star of this salad is the fresh mandarin. This time of year we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to citrus so I would encourage you to experiment with different types of oranges, mandarins, and grapefruits to use in your salads. I chose my family’s favorite, the sumo mandarin for this salad. The segments were so huge that I actually had to chop them up before diving in!
I sprinkled a scoop of raw sprouted pumpkin seeds on top for crunch and salt. These can easily be replaced by any seed or nut you like. Try sesame, sunflower, or cashews for a little change of pace. This salad will begin to break down shortly after the dressing is added so if you’d like to pack it as a lunch or prepare it ahead of time just store the dressing separately.
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
- 2 teaspoons hot mustard (or horseradish sauce)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch pepper
For the salad:
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 cup shredded latacino (dinosaur) kale
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 large mandarin orange, peeled and segmented
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and mustard in a small bowl and whisk together. While whisking rigorously, drizzle in the avocado and sesame oils followed by the salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Place the cabbage, kale, carrot, and red bell pepper in a large bowl.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
- Top salad with mandarin orange segments and pumpkin seeds.
- Enjoy immediately!