I recently came into possession of (yes, another way of saying I dished out dollarsa fabulous cookbook: Steak With Friends: At Home With Rick Tramonto. A cruise through its pages yielded a recipe for “Chicago-Style Garbage Salad,” and I had to give it a read through. Inspired by Rick’s variety of ingredients, I concocted my own version, renamed it something more appealing, and served it to family and friends. We had leftovers (that was one humongous salad bowl), but everyone went back for seconds. The only negative comment–if it can be called that–was when Senior said it was “too green.” But then, he does like his protein.

NOTE: Take a deep breath before perusing the list of ingredients–but, trust me, the salad that lands on your plate is worth all the chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing.

4 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped

3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

3 cups baby spinach

3/4 cup radishes, thinly sliced

1-1/2 cups cucumber, peeled and diced

1-1/2 cups roasted red peppers, chopped (I used ready-roasted in a jar)

1-1/2 cups celery, diced

1-1/2 cups tomatoes, diced

1-1/2 cups green onions, sliced thin

4 oz provolone cheese, sliced thin and chopped

4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thin and chopped

3 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

1-1/2 cups deli-roasted chicken, chopped

1-1/2 cups salami, sliced thin and chopped

1-1/2 cups garbanzo beans (I used canned)

1/2 cup shelled edamame

1/2 cup pepperoncini, sliced thin

1-1/2 cups croutons (I used Texas Toast Brand: Asiago Cheese)

2 tbsp parsley, minced

1) Here’s the easy part. Now that you’ve exhausted your cutting board, assemble your salad as follows: In humongous bowl, layer salad in order of ingredients listed (or however you like) and serve with your favorite dressing

Servings: easily 8 dinner-sized portions


This meal started off as a salad version of a Muffuletta sandwich, but when I came up short on a few ingredients, I decided to indulge in a fridge and pantry raid rather than waste time and gas running to the grocery store. Did the indulgence pay off? Yep. My guys—and I–cleaned our plates.

Indulgence Salad

5 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

3 cups fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup grated or matchstick carrots

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup chopped cucumber

3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes

1-1/2 cups croutons (I made mine–sliced baguette, spray olive oil, salt, pepper, and toasting in the oven–but store bought saves time)

1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini

1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives

3/4 cup sliced green olives with pimientos

2 green onions, sliced thin

1-1/2 cup diced ham

1 cup diced provolone cheese

1 cup diced salami

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

2 tbsp capers

2 tbsp pine nuts

1) Set out four plates (or make one pass-around-the table salad in a large bowl)

2) Providing you’ve done all your chopping, grating, dicing, and slicing, assembly is a cinch. Simply layer each salad in order of ingredients listed, then serve with your favorite salad dressing and settle down to a meal of indulgence.

Servings: 4


Though the weather continues to cool, I still need my weekly (minimum) salad fix. This Southwestern Chopped Salad was the perfect final meal of the day (I don’t count Senior and Junior Too’s after-dinner bowls of cereal as meals). Another scraped-clean bowl!


1-7 oz container Greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage brand)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used reduced fat Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil)

1 tbsp dry ranch dressing mix

1 tbsp taco seasoning


2-13 oz cans chicken breast, drained

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-4 oz can mild green chiles, drained

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

2 cups tomato, diced

4 green onions, sliced thin

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

2 avocados, diced

1 large head iceberg lettuce (chop right before putting salad together)

1-1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips

1) DRESSING: Add all dressing ingredients to blender and blend on medium-high speed until well combined; refrigerate at least 1 hour

2) SALAD: To large salad bowl, add: chicken, both bell peppers, black beans, green chiles, corn, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and avocado; refrigerate 30-45 minutes until chilled

3) Chop lettuce; add lettuce to ingredients in salad bowl; pour dressing over salad and toss to coat; top with crushed tortilla chips and serve

Servings: 6-8 dinner-sized portions

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 06/28/12–the one that disappeared into a black hole (which is the reason WordPress and I met up).