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America’s Test Kitchen: Salt keeps chopped veggies crisp

  • This undated photo provided by America's Test Kitchen in June 2019 shows a Summer Vegetable Chopped Salad in Brookline, Mass. This recipe appears in the cookbook "New Essentials." (Joe Keller/America's Test Kitchen via AP)

A chopped salad, where every ingredient is cut into pieces of about the same size, should offer the perfect mixture of flavors and textures in every bite.

But some vegetables get watery and soggy when you chop and dress them, and require extra attention.

In this summery salad, we first salted the tomatoes and cucumbers to draw out their excess moisture before adding them to the salad. Seeding the cucumbers and quartering the tomatoes exposed more surface area to the salt for even better results.

Letting all the vegetables marinate in the vinaigrette for a few minutes before adding the lettuce intensified their flavor.

Along with cucumbers and tomatoes, we chose sweet yellow bell pepper, red onion and peppery radishes for our mix, and tossed them all with chopped romaine lettuce hearts.

Be sure to add the lettuce just before serving, or it will turn soggy.


By America’s Test Kitchen

  • 3 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 8 ounces radishes, trimmed and sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 romaine lettuce heart (6 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces

Toss cucumbers and tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt and let drain in colander for 15 minutes.

Whisk vinegar, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil.

Add drained cucumbers and tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, radishes, and parsley; toss to coat. Let salad sit for at least 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes.

Add lettuce and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.


>> Mediterranean: Use just 1 cucumber and 1/2 an onion. Substitute 10 ounces grape tomatoes for cherry tomatoes. Omit bell pepper and radishes. Reduce vinegar and olive oil to 3 tablespoons each. Add 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, and 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives. Add 1 cup crumbled feta cheese at end with lettuce.

>> Pear and cranberry: Omit tomatoes. Use just 1 cucumber and 1/2 an onion. Substitute red bell pepper for yellow bell pepper. Omit radishes and parsley. Substitute 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar for red wine vinegar and reduce olive oil to 3 tablespoons. Add 1 ripe but firm pear, cut into 1/4 inch pieces, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Add 1 cup crumbled blue cheese and 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pistachios at end with lettuce.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 215 calories, 15 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 334 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 4 g protein.

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