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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.



Allergy Free App

  1. On May 22, 2012 glutenfreeforgood said

    We are on the same wavelength SO much of the time! I can completely understand why you would crave this salad. I love the way it looks lined up in sections. It’s gorgeous. I’m into salads right now and simply having a different way to display the ingredients makes salad prep more fun. This is lovely. Can’t wait to try my own version on guests. Thanks for the inspiration, Kim. I can always count on you for healthy and creative!

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Melissa, I am totally sure that you would come up with your own amazing version of this one!! I mix it up all of the time too. I will add more greens, avocado, sprouts, sugar snap peas, etc and it is still always always good! My kids always love it when I line it all up and then I let them add the dressing and mix it all up! 🙂

  2. On May 22, 2012 Sarena said

    I feel like nobody gets as excited about salads as I do. You just made my day! I love the platter of ingredients. So beautiful! This salad looks and sounds like my dream come true too!

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Haha! Sarena, I totally agree. I do not think there are too many like us that get so excited over a salad! And in the heat we have already been having, salads sound like the most appealing thing right now!! 🙂

  3. On May 22, 2012 Kelley McCarthy said

    Hey Kim! This sounds amazing. I am excited to make this this weekend. Do you recommend making the dressing in advance for the flavors to “blend” or can you make it at the last minute?
    Thanks for sharing- this sounds like the perfect summer salad – for those of us who are WELL into summer:)

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hey Kelly!! Thanks, girlie! You can totally make this dressing in advance. Just shake it up again right before you add it to the salad. And you can also make most of the salad a head of time as well. The salad, when it is all mixed together, is even good the next day as well. Does not get soggy and yucky like a lot of salads.

      Missing you. And WELL into summer is right. Today sounds like it is going to be miserable. LOL

  4. On May 22, 2012 Shirley @ gfe said

    You are the queen of magnificent chopped salads! Remember the very first time I went to your blog, I was wowed by a chopped salad you shared? And I’ve actually enjoyed one of your chopped salads in real life … again, magnificent! I’m all over this one when I return from my travels. 🙂 Hope you guys have a fabulous Memorial Day!


    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      That is right, Shirley!! I have served you another one of my chopped salads. I am addicted to them because my kids will eat them and you can make an entire meal in a single bowl!! Hopefully you enjoy this one as much as the other one I made you in person. Perhaps, one of these days, I can make this one for you too!! 🙂

  5. On May 22, 2012 Tessa@Domestic Diva said

    That dressing has me combo with all those crunchy veg and nuts?! Can’t wait to try it!

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Tessa, I will be totally honest with you. I could drink this dressing from the mason jar, or just eat it like soup with a spoon. LOL Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  6. On May 22, 2012 Ricki said

    Wowzah!! I love the presentation in the top photo, but I think the mixed salad looks great, too! I really do have to try this (one of these days, I’ll attempt Daiya cheese. . . or just make my own!). I’m all over salads this summer. . .yum!

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Ricki, I only line it all up when I am actually serving it to guests. Otherwise, I just throw all of the ingredients in a bowl for us. And I have made this without cheese often, so I would not even worry about trying it with the Vegan cheeses. It is still just as good. And I always change up the ingredients or improvise when I am making this one. Very forgiving. 🙂

  7. On May 22, 2012 Carol, SGF said

    Oh My! This is so my kind of food! I love salads all laid out pretty like that and I love thaose flavor combos!!!

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Carol, you, of course, would have made this presentation totally amazing considering how talented and creative you are with your photos!!! 🙂

  8. On May 22, 2012 Laura said

    That salad does look like a dream come true! I am starving just looking at it-I bet it tastes amazing!

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Thanks Laura! It is pretty yummy, for sure. This heat we have here right now has me craving salads for sure!!

  9. On May 22, 2012 Jeannie Wilson said

    This is definitely my favorite chopped salad. Maybe we will have it for dinner tonight. I think I have all the ingredients. Thanks love for reminding me. oxoxox

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      I know you love this one, Mom! Maybe Michael will be able to eat it now if he is feeling a bit better!
      Love you!

  10. On May 22, 2012 Maggie said

    I remember this salad! So gorgeous and colorful. Pete and I have been loving crunchy salads as of late. I MUST try this dressing. I’m ready for bed but craving a salad. Well done girlie! xo

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Thanks, Maggie. This is one of our favorites. I change up the ingredients all of the time to whatever veggies and nuts I have on hand. But, i am totally craving salad too right now, especially with this heat wave we are having!

  11. On May 22, 2012 AndreAnna said

    I might actually die if I don’t eat this.

    • On May 22, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Oh geez. I cannot let that happen. Delivering a plate personally…hang tight!

      Ok. That’s me you hear knocking at your door! 🙂

  12. On May 23, 2012 Rogene said

    Yep. That’s definitely a keeper.

  13. On May 23, 2012 Sonia said

    This salad looks soooo good!!! I can’t wait to try this! I am very new to eating this way so, Kim I was wondering are you planning on putting this app for Androids??? I just bought one & I’m thinking about trading this in for an Iphone for the this App!!!! But I really don’t want to but I LOVE this site (app)!! PLEASE!!!!
    Thanks for all your great info.

    • On May 23, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Sonia!! We have been working on the Android version for a while, but it has kept coming up with bugs and kinks in it so we have not released it yet. 🙁 I will let you know if we get it up and working right for sure!! But, in the mean time I have lots of recipes here on the site as well. Thanks so much for the kind words!! They mean a lot! 🙂

      • On May 25, 2012 Sonia said

        Thanks Kim!! I will be using your website (recipes). I hope you get the kinks worked out, can’t wait!!!! I am so thrilled with all you wonderful women, you make it so much easier for people like me that have no clue or talent & knowledge!!! I am fairly new to this kind of eating. Thank you.. thank you.. thank you!!!

        • On May 25, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

          Sonia, you are welcome! 🙂 So glad to help. I love this community… everyone has such creative ideas and always so helpful! Any time you have a question, feel free to ask me! You can email me under my Contacts tab!

  14. On May 23, 2012 Alisa said

    Oh my goodness, I so crave salads and this looks just too, too good. I love that the arugula is chopped small, since it is such a pungent green.

    Do you make your own mayo Kim, or use vegan or store-bought?

    • On May 23, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Alisa, I have made my own mayo many times. But, when I am using it for dressings, I usually just use one of the store-bought ones since you are mixing it with other ingredients. Mindful Mayo has come out with a really natural new mayo that uses olive oil and is free of all of the bad stuff. It works well in this dressing!
      And, I have to say that even though Arugula is pungent, I am totally addicted to it. It is my favorite green right now! 🙂

  15. On August 14, 2012 jas said

    this looks awesome, love it in all the sections and when it’s mixed it reminds me of 100’s and 1000’s but savoury!

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