There are dishes with a cult following, and then there are dishes that have their own Facebook page. We’re talking about The Original Chopped Salad recipe, unofficially deemed As the “state salad” of Arizona. When you think of signature Arizonian foods, a salad might not be the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a state known for bacon-wrapped hotdogs, deep-fried flatbread, and street tacos. But this dish, originating at Scottsdale favorite Cowboy Ciao, is famous for a reason.
A Brief History
Also known as the Stetson, this is no ordinary chopped salad recipe. You won’t find any bacon or hard-boiled eggs, but it’s not missing one bit of flavor. The dish’s history goes back almost thirty years when it first appeared on Cowboy Ciao’s menu. The executive chef at the time, Bernie Kantak, was tasked with dreaming up a new chopped salad recipe, one more exciting than the classic version. Drawing inspiration from the restaurant’s seasonal soup at the time, one that used freeze-dried corn and smoked salmon as garnish– the Stetson Chopped Salad recipe was born.
Cowboy Ciao has since closed, but the legendary dish lives on. In fact, it’s made its way onto the menus of some of Arizona’s best restaurants, like Central Phoenix spot The Gladly or Downtown Scottsdale’s Citizen Public House. Even chains like Wildflower Bread Company have used the salad as inspiration for their own variations. And in boutiques across Arizona, you can find ingredients sold specifically with the dish in mind, including instructions on how to make it. We told you– this state is serious about its chopped salad recipe.
The Perfect Chopped Salad Recipe
For the Salad
½ cup smoked salmon, cut into strips
⅓ cup freeze-dried corn
⅔ cup chopped arugula
⅔ cup cooked Israeli couscous
½ cup diced Roma tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup black currants
¼ cup toasted and salted pepitas
3 tbsp grated asiago cheese
For the Dressing
1 cup kewpie mayonnaise
¼ cup buttermilk, shaken
1 tbsp grated romano cheese
The juice of one lemon
12 whole basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Begin by making the dressing. Using a food processor or immersion blender, combine the mayo, buttermilk, cheese, lemon juice, basil, and garlic until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine your diced tomatoes, balsamic, olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper. Let marinate while you set up the rest of your ingredients.
To make the “trail mix”, combine the currants, pumpkin seeds, and asiago, and set aside.
To assemble, place the arugula, cooked couscous, trail mix, smoked salmon, freeze-dried corn, and marinated tomatoes in individual lines in a shallow bowl. Serve with the dressing on the side, and toss when ready to eat.