A Mediterranean Chopped Salad combines fresh vegetables, lean poultry, and legumes in a flavorful and protein-packed salad that is flavorful, easy to make, and can be eaten as a light meal or a side dish. There are tons of variations to this salad so it's easy to customize the ingredients to what you have on hand and what you like.
I'm always looking for new salad ideas and this one quickly became one of my favorite salads. I love the way the ingredients are all finely chopped and arranged in a bowl (or you can toss them all together) so you see each ingredient. It makes a beautiful presentation and it's a great way to incorporate a healthy salad bursting with Mediterranean flavors into your meal plan. I've always said that a salad tastes better when I don't have to make it. That's why I love this easy salad! I can prep all the ingredients ahead of time and quickly assemble a delish fresh salad in minutes.
One thing I love about meal prepping salads is I can use the same basic salad ingredients and completely change the flavors just by changing the salad dressing and substituting a few different ingredients.
One of my absolute favorite salads of all time is a Thai Crunch Salad that is served at California Pizza Kitchen. I make a quick version of this with Romaine or sometimes Napa cabbage if I have it on hand, sous vide chicken or chicken satay, cucumbers, carrots, and edamame with this amazing peanut sauce that I chill to use as a salad dressing.
Here are some other salad dressings that can change up the flavor of any basic salad!
The Alabama white sauce is incredible on a basic salad with pulled chicken.
The Pineapple Sweet & Sour sauce is great on basic salad with pineapple and ham. Try grilling your pineapple for a slightly different flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Controlling moisture is the key to maintaining a crisp salad. So to keep your salad fresh for as long as possible, I recommend keeping the individual ingredients, especially those with a lot of moisture like ripe tomatoes or juicy cucumbers in separate airtight containers until you are ready to assemble the salad.
Once assembled, the salad will stay fresh about 2 days in an airtight container as long as you do not put salad dressing on it. Once salad dressing is on the salad, it is best to eat it that day or the next day for the best texture and flavor.
You can use anything from a simple vinaigrette to a creamy feta dressing. Personally, I love a creamy lemon dressing on the Mediterranean chopped salad. It's light enough that the flavors of the ingredients shine through and the bright flavors of lemon compliment it perfectly. Here is my recipe for creamy lemon dressing if you want to try it: Creamy Lemon Dressing Recipe
Ingredients & Substitutions
Vegetables & Herbs
The variety of vegetables you use is completely up to you. Use what you love and have on hand.
Lettuce: I used Romaine lettuce in this salad because it stays fresher longer and has a nice crunch, but any lettuce you like will work perfectly fine. Some other great choices are iceberg lettuce, red or green leaf lettuce or bibb lettuce.
Onions: I prefer using a red onion over white onions in this salad, but either is fine or you can skip the onions. For a milder onion flavor consider using green onions.
Cucumbers: Any type of cucumbers are fine, I like to use an English cucumber because they have less seeds, don't give off as much liquid and are a tad sweeter than a regular cucumber. Another option is Persian cucumbers.
Asparagus: This may seem like a strange ingredient to add, but let me just say it's wonderful in this salad. The best kind of asparagus to use is thin stalks and you only want to steam or blanch them for a few minutes. Just long enough to soften them slightly. You want to maintain the vibrant green color and they should have a little snap to them. Once they are steamed or blanched, shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Garlic: I use a bulb of roasted garlic in this recipe, but it is completely optional. If you don't have time to roast your garlic, I do not recommend using raw garlic, it will be way too overpowering. The roasted garlic is sweet and mild, perfect for a salad. You can sauté some minced garlic, but only a small amount (1-2 cloves) and mix it in with the lettuce for a little punch of garlic flavor.
Mint: Personally I think the mint is an important component of this salad and it brings all the flavors together, especially when you use a lemon dressing like I did. However, it is completely optional. You can skip it or use whatever fresh herbs you like.
Other Veggies: Some other vegetable choices would be, any type of bell peppers, but especially red peppers (roasted or raw), artichoke hearts, Although I didn't add these, I think they would be delicious!
I use cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in this salad and I like them to be cooked al dente, so I pressure cook raw beans. If you want to use canned chickpeas, make sure to drain them well. If you prefer to pressure cook them, here is my recipe: Pressure Cooker Chickpeas.
You can also use other types of legumes, like lentils, black beans, or peas. Cooked barley would also be great! Use any type of bean or grain that you love. Pearled couscous is another great option.
Kalamata olives: I love the saltiness and the texture of these olives, but you can use any type of green or black olives or simply skip them.
Tomatoes: I used multi colored cherry tomatoes that I quartered, but any ripe tomatoes diced are perfect. If you don't have fresh tomatoes, consider using fire roasted canned tomatoes that you drain well. I have done this many times in different salads.
You can also use other types of fruit if you prefer. Dried cranberries, apricots, or figs would be delicious. Fresh fruit like plums, grapes, or avocado are also great choices.
Eggs & Cheese
I use a hard boiled egg in this salad, but it is completely optional.
You can use feta cheese like I did or switch it up for a crumbly gorgonzola if you prefer. Parmesan, ricotta, or even cottage cheese can also be used.
Meat & Seafood
I love chicken in this salad and it's a great way to use up leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken, but my favorite way is to sous vide a chicken breast. The texture is simply perfect in a salad! If you want to give sous vide chicken breast a try, here is my recipe: Sous Vide Chicken Breast
You could also use shrimp, salmon, or even tuna fish in this salad.
My absolute favorite salad dressing for this salad is my Creamy Lemon Dressing. It's light, it's lemony, and it pairs perfectly with all the flavors in the salad.
Here is the recipe: Creamy Lemon Salad Dressing
Some other great options would be a creamy feta or a basic oil and vinegar vinaigrette. When it comes to salad dressing, use what you love!
What is a Chopped Salad?
You may wonder why I called this a Mediterranean Chopped Salad instead of a Mediterranean salad or even a Greek salad. It's because of the size of the ingredients. You want them small.
The first time I had a chopped salad, I was sold! Every single ingredient was diced small and once the dressing was added, it was like a magic flavor bomb. The dressing was able to coat each and every piece of salad and it was so wonderful.
The size of the dice is up to you, but honestly, I think I could have gone a little smaller when I made mine on the video and for the picture. I would shoot for about ½" dice for most things and not more than 1".
So, no matter what the salad ingredients are, chop them up small and toss with dressing. It's delicious!
How to Assemble the Chopped Salad
Prepping the Salad Ingredients
With any salad, the prep is the worst part! What I often do to ease the amount of work just before eating the salad (which often deters me from making it) is meal prep the ingredients in the beginning of the week. I'll do this for a variety of different salad ingredients, then I can simply grab the ones I want and quickly assemble my salad.
Trust me, this really works! So, if you are wanting to incorporate more salads into your diet, prep ahead and store each ingredient separately in airtight containers.
Chicken Breast: At least the day before, cook the chicken how you like it. You can grill it or sous vide it or use leftover Rotisserie Chicken. You will want about ½ cup of chopped chicken per salad serving.
Asparagus: My favorite way to prep asparagus for salads is to quickly blanche in boiling water and then chill in an ice bath or lightly steam it and then drop it into an ice bath. You will want the asparagus to still retain some crunch, but not taste raw. Cook the asparagus at least 2 hours prior to assembling the salad to give it enough time to chill completely. Then chop it into about ½" pieces or so. You will need about 2 stalks of asparagus per salad serving.
Hard Boiled Eggs: If you have the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot and haven't used it for hard boiled eggs yet, do it! It's so easy and the shells peel like a dream. Here is my recipe: Hard Boiled Eggs You will want about ½ egg for each salad serving. I would do this the day before you want to serve your salad to give them time to really chill.
Chickpeas: You can either drain a can of chickpeas or make your own from dried beans. The advantage to cooking your own is you control the texture of them. Personally, I like the chickpeas to be just a little bit harder than they are in the can, so I pressure cook them to medium as described in this recipe: Pressure Cooker Chickpeas You will want about ¼ cup of chickpeas per salad serving. I like the chickpeas to be cold, so either pressure cook or drain them at least 4 hours before you are assembling your salad.
Roasted Garlic: This is a magical ingredient! If you have the time, make a few bulbs of roasted garlic and add them to EVERYTHING! I kid you not. I even think roasted garlic ice cream would be delicious! Here is the recipe to roast them in your air fryer: Air Fryer Roasted Garlic
Salad Dressing: If you are making the Creamy Lemon Salad Dressing, I recommend making it at least 4 hours before you want to use it to give it time to chill completely. Here is the recipe: Creamy Lemon Salad Dressing
While you can prep all of the ingredients beforehand like I usually do, the rest can be chopped and used in your salad right away.
Lettuce: No matter what kind of lettuce you want to use, you want to chop it into about ½" dice for a chopped salad. You will need about ¾ cup of lettuce per salad serving.
Cucumber: Chop the cucumber into about ½" dice. You can peel it or leave the skin on. You will need about ¼ cup of cucumber per salad serving.
Onion: Peel and chop the onion into about ½" dice. You will want between 1-2 Tablespoons of chopped onion per salad serving.
Cherry Tomatoes: Chop the tomatoes into about ½" dice. You will want about ¼ cup of chopped tomatoes per salad serving.
Kalamata Olives: Drain the olives from the oil or liquid and chop them into about ¼" dice. You will want about 2 olives per salad serving or 1-2 Tablespoons.
Feta Cheese: Crumble the feta into small pieces. You will want about 2 Tablespoons per salad serving.
Mint: While completely optional, the mint really adds a nice flavor & brightness to the salad. Plan on 2-3 mint leaves per salad serving and gently tear the mint leaves or leave whole.
Assembling the Mediterranean Chopped Salad
There are several ways you can choose to assemble the salad. You can simply toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl with the dressing and served as a Tossed Chopped Salad or assemble each component of the salad next to each other.
Both ways taste great, but when you put all of the ingredients side-by-side, it is such a beautiful presentation. That's the way I prefer to do it. The best type of container is going to be a large round bowl that isn't too deep. While you can use a plate, what I find is the salad ingredients don't stay where they should and when you go to eat it, they can fall off the plate.
A single serve pasta bowl or shallow cereal bowl is a great option. The one I used was a little too big and it served 2 people.
Line the bottom with the chopped lettuce and then simple put each of the chopped ingredients on top in little piles. There isn't any right way or wrong way to do this, but I try to pay attention to the colors so that I end up with a beautiful salad.
When you are done, add the torn mint leaves, drizzle the top with your dressing of choice and add a little lemon zest if desired.
Enjoy the salad! It's delicious!
Mediterranean Chopped Salad
- ¾ cup Romaine Lettuce chopped in ½" pieces
- ¼ cup cherry tomatoes diced
- ¼ cup cucumber ½" dice
- ¼ cup cooked chickpeas drain if using canned chickpeas
- 2 Tablespoon red onion ½" dice
- ½ hard boiled egg
- 2 kalamata olives diced ¼" -½"
- 2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- 2 stalks asparagus blanched or steamed then chilled and cut into ½" pieces
- 2-3 roasted garlic cloves
- ½ cup cooked chicken ½" dice
- 2-4 fresh mint leaves torn in small pieces or kept whole as garnish
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest optional for garnish
- 2-4 Tablespoons Creamy Lemon Dressing
- Line a shallow salad bowl with lettuce. Place small piles of prepped ingredients on top of the salad. There isn't any right or wrong order, but try to vary the colors for the best presentation.
- Add the mint leaves to the top and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with lemon zest if desired. Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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