Nancy's Chopped Salad

A couple of things right off the bat.

1. Chickpeas seem to be having a moment, don't they? I mean, they're everywherein Plenty, Jerusalem, Super Natural Every Day, and of course, perennially in your lunchtime hummus. They are the Maggie Smith of legumes. (Because she's also an old standby who's having a moment right now. Good one, Amerzz!) But as much as I've cooked with them through the years, not once have I started with them in their dried-out state. So, I thought I'd give it a shot and see what every recipe that calls for dried chickpeas, but then says something in parentheses, mildly shaming you, like, "canned chickpeas are fine too" was talking about.
2. Another apt title for The Mozza Cookbook? Why Restaurants Exist. There's a reason why I've had this cookbook for over a year now, and thisa saladis the first thing I've attempted from it. It's just that the vast majority of the recipes contain a myriad of ingredients, many of which aren't ingredients at all, but other recipes posing as ingredients.

And then there's the fact that Matt and I live a mere 20-minute drive from both Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza. So, when faced with the question: "Should I buy octopus and then sear it in the pan, and then  use 8 cups of olive oil to poach it, and then finish it off on the grill, in order to recreate the grilled octopus salad, or should I just go sit at the bar at Osteria Mozza any Monday through Wednesday where they offer up an affordable pre fixe?" the answer is clear.
OK, having said all that and having chopped my way through heads of iceberg and radicchio, salami, provolone, peperoncini, tomatoes, and red onion, the cecior chickpeasare the real stars of this dish and what I'll be taking away from this experience. Don't get me wrong. The salad is completely delicious, but I feel like when you spend that much time turning the humble chickpea into a silky, vaguely smoky, subtly spiced, buttery piece of food, you should kind of just toss them with some pasta and Swiss chard and call it a day.

Plus, when you make the ceci, you're left with a brightly flavored (particularly so for only using vegetables) broth. Looking very forward to using the below in the near future.
In short? Go ahead and make this chopped salad with canned chickpeas, but also go ahead and make Silverton's ceci sometime. You won't be sorry.
 Also, stay tuned for next week where we'll be offering up a video tip that just might save your life!
Nancy's Chopped Salad (very slightly adapted from The Mozza Cookbook)
serves 4 as a starter or 2 (generously) as a main course

1/2 small red onion, cut in half from top to bottom
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 medium head radicchio
1 pint small, sweet cherry tomatoes, such as Sun Golds or Sweet 100s, cut into halves
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups cooked Ceci (recipe follows)
1/4 pound aged provolone, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1/4 pound Genoa salami, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
5 peperoncini (stems discarded), cut into thin slices (about 1/4 cup)
Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon), or more to taste
Dried oregano (preferably Sicilian oregano on the branch), for sprinkling
1/2 cup Oregano Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Separate the layers of the onion and stack two or three layers on top of one another, then cut them lengthwise into 1/16-inch-wide strips. Repeat with the remaining onion layers. Place the onion in a small bowl of ice water to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain the onion and pat dry with paper towels before adding to the salad.

Cut the iceberg lettuce in half through the core. Remove and discard the outer leaves, and discard the core. Separate the lettuce leaves, stack two or three leaves on top of one another, then cut them lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Repeat with the remaining leaves; thinly slice the radicchio in the same way. Cut the tomatoes in half, season them with salt to taste, and toss gently.

Combine the lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes, chickpeas, provolone, salami, peperoncini and onion in a large, wide bowl. Season with salt to taste, and toss to thoroughly combine. Drizzle 6 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the salad, then sprinkle with the lemon juice; toss gently to coat the salad evenly. Taste, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, plus salt and/or lemon juice as needed.

Transfer the salad to a large platter or divide it among individual plates, piling it like a mountain. Sprinkle the dried oregano leaves on top and serve.

To make the Ceci:
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 tablespons kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery rib, halved
1 dried arbol chile (I had New Mexico chiles. Seemed to work fine!)
16 garlic cloves
1/2 yellow onion, halved

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 1/2 inches. Add the salt and the olive oil. Place the carrot, celery, chile, garlic, and onion in a double piece of cheesecloth and tie it into a closed bundle with kitchen twine. Add the bundle to the pot with the chickpeas and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the chickpeas until they are very tender and creamy, about 2 hours, adding more water to the pot as needed but never covering them by more than an inch to an inch and a half. (Cooking them in just enough water yields richer-tasting, creamier beans than if you were to just boil them in tons of water.) (Note: the time will vary greatly depending on how long you soaked the beans and how old the beans are; the time could be anywhere from 1 hour to as long as 4.)

Turn off the heat and allow the chickpeas to cool in the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle. The chickpeas can be prepared to this point up to a week in advance. If you are using the chickpeas now, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid to use as a hearty, chickpea-flavored base for vegetable soup. To use later, transfer the chickpeas and the cooking liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to use. Bring the chickpeas to room temperature and drain them before using.

For the Oregano Vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or more to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together the vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, garlic and the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes (to marinate the oregano). Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, and add salt or lemon juice as needed.


Matthew said...

Yummersssssss. Must go back to Mozza for that grilled octopus asap. xoxo

Ileana said...

One of my favorite beans. Let us know where that chickpea broth ends up!

Sara said...

thank you for legitimizing all of us who use canned chick peas. u da best

Jessica said...

OMG this looks like the best chopped salad ever.
- Jess

KK said...

I agree about the Mozza cookbook. I keep pulling it out, looking at the pretty pictures, and then deciding to make something that won't take 12 hours.
But, this weekend, we're going back for their pasta tasting menu :)

Stephanie said...

Totally agree about the chickpeas! I am a dried bean fiend (black-eyed peas! white navy beans! and so on), but I just don't get the point of dealing with dried chickpeas when canned are pretty much the same . . .

Oh, it could also be that I was scarred for life in my university residence when the cafeteria kept serving up vegetarian chile with dried chickpeas that weren't cooked through -- ew!

Alex said...

I'm with Matt, this is a total trip to Yummerzville and everything about this looks delicious. Here's the question: What is the Edith of legumes and is it an Edith for a reason? Should we give this legume a fighting chance or do we leave it at the alter, a jilted bride forever?

Amelia Morris said...

Dearest Alex,
You pose a delightful question. Off the top of my head, I'd say she's a lima bean--constantly overlooked but with LOTS of potential.

:) :)

Amelia Morris said...

Pasta tasting menu!?!?

Sarah said...

"Why Restaurants Exist"---ha. I love this and it looks gorgeous...I might just make the ceci alone because they sound so good! xo

joanna said...

hell yes. i love me some chickpeas. last year i went through a phase where i was making my own hummus and it was THE BOMB.


Amelia Morris said...

Hi, Ileana! re: the chickpea broth, I cooked capellini pasta in it last night and tossed it with some leftover chickpeas and preserved lemon that I had on hand. It totally could have used some fresh parsley, but was otherwise delicious!!

Kara said...

I admire the heck out of ya, and wish someone would make me this gorgeous thing!

Hats off to your chick pea fortitude! I feel like home-made hummus should be called Why Sabra Exists, etc etc. I never have any luck with the stuff, but give me home-made (or, ho-made, as the case may be) chick peas in a curry any day...like this day. Please!

Mary Anne said...

that is a restaurant level salad, fo SHO.

sg said...

I have never made a salad in this way before - and those chick peas were sexy (and i would never have said that before about a chick pea). Twice in one week I will be making and eating this! Thank you!

Polish translator, Poland said...

Great recipes! And I love the picture illustrations - it's easier to follow and more likely to do start cooking.

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Shelley said...

I know what you mean about ingredients. My rule of thumb is: more than five ingredients? No go.

But maybe that's why I eat out so often....

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Anne Zimmerman said...

This is so great, Amelia. I think about the idea that most people get very little recognition for anything on a regular basis, mostly when I go home and people who seems to be living out loud rather than living through the lens of Instagram. Thus, I love the idea that cooking gives you that sort of tah-dah! recognition we all long for. The feeding of one's self is so important for so many different reasons...

Amelia Morris said...

thanks for this comment, Anne! Could talk about this in terms of Instagram and social media in general for days on end!! :) :)

julia said...

this looks so delicious, I cant wait to try it out. You have so many great ideas/recipes.
Just started my own blog www.beautyandsomebeef and have put you on my inspiration page.

Anonymous said...

I've always traditionally added my salt towards the end of cooking time not at beginning in the belief this toughened the pulses. This is the second recipe I've read in a week where the salt is added at the beginning so I'll have to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

I went to Mozza when I was in LA last summer. Divine!!! Everything. So I will follow this to the letter! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm determined to make the ceci but I was just going to put my chickpeas on to soak and read 2 tablespoons of salt that seems like a lot of salt or is it a typo and it's 2 teaspoons.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so with you on certain restaurant cookbooks providing a very good reason for Why Restaurants Exist, but then you do get the added thrill of accomplishment when you go through a recipe start to finish. I am definitely filing this away for spring/summertime.

Amelia Morris said...

I'm traveling so don't have the recipe in front I me... But in pretty sure it is two tablespoons! Don't want to ruin your Ceci though. Maybe use less and add more salt later?

Anonymous said...

The preparation for the chick peas sounds wonderful. Not many agree with me, but I think the effort of cooking them from the dried state results in such a better product. They are sooooooooooooo much creamier. I usually only add salt and a bit of olive oil but will add the other ingredients next time. I seem to end up making a pot of them for adding to soups, salads or toasting in the oven every couple of weeks.

Dan from Platter Talk said...

I love this salad and in particular the incorporation of the dried chickpeas. Thanks so much for sharing!

Alfredo Triff said...

well done. tx for the effort.

anna@annamayeveryday.co.uk said...

This looks very very good, I love chick peas and love chopped salads so this is one to make!

Little Cooking Tips said...

Came here from Lottie+Doof website. Thank you for sharing, it's a great salad recipe, we love chickpeas!

Unknown said...

Just came back and read this following the latest chickpea endeavor and was so happy to see it -- My fiance just gave me the Mozza cookbook -- signed by Nancy! He works at the Pizzeria and, obviously, words cannot express how awesome that is for me and my face and it's pizza consumption habits. This salad looks as good as (I know) it tastes!

Amelia Morris said...

Your fiancé works at the pizzeria?!? sighhhhhhh. My mom comes in town this week and we JUST might go there one day! Haven't been in way too long.