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The Chopped Salad that Dreams are Made Of…

Cowboy Ciao Chopped Salad

Okay. At least my dreams are….

This IS, by FAR, my most favorite salad ever.

It is an entire meal in a bowl. And even better is that my whole family will eat it.

The basic recipe comes from a favorite restaurant of ours here in Scottsdale, Cowboy Ciao.

We have adapted it over the years to fit our own special diet restrictions, but no matter what you do to this salad, it is still amazing.

The Stetson Chopped, as it is called here, is a salad with a quirky combination of salty/sweet/chewy/crunchy flavors and textures that will completely surprise your palate in that totally oh-so-good way.  The magic that comes from the combining of these flavors is sheer bliss in your mouth.

It can be tailored to meet most food allergies, by subbing a few ingredients here and there, or leaving some out all together. You can even get creative with your own ingredient ideas as well. And it is fairly simple to throw together. The most time consuming part is chopping up a few ingredients for the salad and then whirring the dressing away in the blender for a minute.

The fun part is in the presentation.  It is a salad that will surely “wow” your guests when you bring it to the table.  The amazing color combinations of the wonderfully fresh ingredients lined up so dramatically on the plate is definitely a conversation piece.  But the best part is when you pour that amazing dressing over it all and create a cornucopia of flavors for the palette!

And like I mention above, when I have not had it for a while, I seriously start to dream about it.

So…because I am definitely craving it right now, I am sharing this amazing Allergy-friendly chopped salad with you again.

And, I just may dare to say, that once you have tried it…you may start dreaming about it too!

Here is the final product all mixed together:


Allergy Friendly Chopped Salad

Not quite so pretty this way…but this is when the pure MAGIC happens. Trust me on this.


Your New Favorite Allergy-Friendly Chopped Salad


  • 2 cups Arugula, chopped fairly small
  • 2 cups roma tomatoes, finely chopped (I like to lay them on a paper towel to drain a little liquid before adding them to the salad)
  • 2 cups Sweet Corn (omit if avoiding corn) – organic sweet corn in freezer section works well
  • 2 cups Lundberg’s Brown Rice Couscous OR Schär Gluten Free Anellini noodles (these noodles contain corn)
  • 8 oz Smoked Salmon Lox (or chicken breast if you do not like lox) cut into small pieces (omit both for Vegan version)
  • 8 oz Asiago cheese, cut very fine (For Dairy-Free: Omit, or try one of the Vegan Cheese alternatives, reading ingredients if also allergic to Soy)- If using Vegan cheese, cut amount in half since it will have a different flavor and texture than Asiago.
  • 1 cup Pepitas, roasted and salted
  • 1 cup Dried Currants (or Golden Raisins)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup prepared Pesto Sauce (For Dairy or Nut Free: make this pesto recipe from Living Without  – most store-bought prepared Pesto Sauces have dairy and nuts in them – always check the labels or make your own)
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise (For Egg-Free: use Earth Balance Mindful Mayo OR  Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot (about 1 whole shallot)
  • 1 cup Buttermilk (For Dairy-Free: make your own buttermilk by using 1 cup of any plain Dairy Free Milk or Yogurt -Soy, Rice, Coconut, Almond, or Hemp-and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, then let sour for 5 min.)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each – or more to taste


1.  Prepare brown rice couscous or Shär noodles according to package directions (except use organic chicken broth instead of water and salt to taste when done).  Let cool completely in refrigerator.

2.  Place frozen corn in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes, to bring out the sweetness.  Let cool completely in the refrigerator.

3.  While couscous or noodles and the corn are being prepared, prepare dressing by blending the pesto sauce, mayo, and shallots in food processor blender.  Slowly stream in buttermilk, then add lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  This makes more dressing than needed for the salad, but it is wonderful saved for another use.

4.  For a dramatic presentation, line each ingredient in a row on a nice platter and place on the table. Then pour desired amount of dressing on the salad, toss, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Otherwise, for a simple presentation, place all of the ingredients in a large shallow bowl, toss with dressing and salt and pepper, and ENJOY!!!!

This is being shared with Allergy Free Wednesdays.



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