Imagine a chopped chef’s salad, New Orleans-style. (Get it? The name comes from New Orleans, LA.). Everyone always associates the city’s fine cooking with creole and Cajun cuisine, but the local food is also influenced by the flurry of Italian-Americans who there during the early 1900s. This antipasto-in-a-bowl is a perfect example, and is served by Crescent City home cooks and fancy restaurants alike and is perfect for the camping kitchen. Feel free to vary the ingredients—especially if you want to make it vegan or vegetarian. Just don’t mess with the super-simple dressing!
Makes 8 side or 4 main dish salads
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bell peppers (at least 1 should be green), cored and chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 large celery stalks, sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 heads romaine lettuce
6 oz provolone cheese (not pre-sliced)
6 oz salami (not pre-sliced)
6 oz mortadella (not pre-sliced)
- Put the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake now if you’d like; you’re going to shake again later anyway.
- Rinse and prepare all the vegetables (including the tomatoes) and put them in a large airtight container. Refrigerate.
- Line a large airtight container (or two) with towels. Trim and rinse the lettuce, tear into bite-size pieces, towel- or spin- dry it, and pack it into the prepared container(s). Refrigerate.
- Chop the cheese, salami, mortadella, and olives.
Put all the salad components in a large bowl or pot. Shake the dressing and pour half of it over the salad; toss. Add more dressing and toss again or pass the jar and a spoon at the table for additional drizzling.
Put any leftovers in a bag in the cooler because this salad is good enough to eat soggy. Some of us can even eat it for breakfast, with poached or fried eggs on top. But if that’s not your thing, chop it up a bit and use a spoonful to dress sandwiches at the last minute or top a piece of simply cooked chicken, fish, or meat—you know, like relish.
Use super primo ingredients: Instead of the celery stalks, chop up the tender celery heart, with its leaves; add marinated or grilled artichoke hearts; pit an assortment of green and black olives; bring whole heirloom tomatoes to chop up at camp and toss in at the last minute; for the cheese, try crumbled gorgonzola; and remember that homemade croutons are always welcome in NOLA.