Food 52 Genius Recipes: “Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad

This salad stood out to me, because it sorta reminded me of a funked up cole slaw and sorta screamed summer bbq to me.  Hence why I decided to make it as an accompanying dish for Cindy’s bbq at her parents house.  Sadly, this is the first disappointment for me out of the Food52 Genius Recipes that I sampled.

I know.  I am bummed, too.

One of the first frustrations is that there are many different versions of this “genius” recipe on the web. The ingredients for the base salad are more or less the same, but the process of pickling some of the veggies and making the actual vinaigrettes differ significantly….and yeah, it annoyed me because the grocery list I made from the online versions didn’t match the book…and well, we know I tend to cook by the book.

The dressing is the second frustration.  It was the left over “pickling” white wine vinegar and some olive oil, salt and pepper.  It basically tasted like a bland yet salty/sour olive oil.  I added some different things like honey, mayo, grainy mustard and some minced shallot to add some additional flavour but it still wasn’t great.  I would strongly recommend that you make your own vinaigrette.  To help you out, I am going to list a sorta recipe for my basic homemade vinaigrettes are:

  • oil (I use extra virgin olive oil but arguably, you could use some flavoured oils)
  • an acid like white wine/balsamic/champagne vinegar or a combo of vinegar and some citrus juice
  • a sweetener – I like maple syrup with a balsamic vinegar, honey with lighter vinegars or with citrus
  • grainy mustard
  • minced shallot or garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Essentially mix these all up and mess with the amounts until it tastes good to you and then pour it on your salad.  Easy peasy.

Ok…now..back to the review.  I liked the variety of things in the salad.  I liked that there was fruit for sweetness and crunch, goats cheese because YUM, and some toasted almonds for a nice, well, nutty flavour, obviously.  I couldn’t find any radicchio for whatever reason so my salad lacked colour and is the main reason why I added some Craisins (or dried cranberries).  I also liked that everything was chopped small.  LIke I said, it sorta reminded me of a funked up cole slaw as it was easy to scoop onto your plate and eat without dressing flying everywhere or encountering massive pieces of spinach.

I think that, with tweaks to the dressing, this salad could easily be at least a four star salad recipe, but with the recipe as it is published in the Food 52 Genius Cookbook, I simply cannot recommend this as I sincerely think it would be inedible by most people and if they did eat it, they would simply eat it out of politeness.

Zero knives out of five…but with your own dressing, sky is the limit.


“Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups (360ml) Riesling vinegar or other white wine vinegar

3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch (6mm) dice

2 carrots, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch (6mm) dice

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch (6mm) dice

1 heirloom apple, such as Cox’s Orange Pippin or Roxbury Russet, peeled, cored and cut into a 1/4 inch (6mm) dice  (NOTE, where I live there are ZERO heirloom apples.  I used a granny smith because the other apples at my super market didn’t look so great – use what is available)

1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch (6mm) dice

1 cup (40g) sliced radicchio (I couldn’t find it, I subbed spinach as I already had some)

1 cup (40g) sliced arugula

1 cup (70g) thinly sliced napa, Savoy or other soft cabbage

3 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups (170g) crumbled soft local goat cheese

1/2 cup (55g) toasted almond slivers


Bring the vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the celery and carrots.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Set aside to cool.  When the vinegar is cool, add the bell pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until cold.  Strain the chilled vegetables through a sieve.  Reserve the vinegar and vegetables separately.

Mix together the apple, cucumber, radicchio, arugula, cabbage and the reserved vegetables in a large bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of the reserved vinegar and the oil and toss well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the goat cheese and almonds to the bowl and toss to mix.  Divide among six plates and serve.


The very adapted finished product was ok…may have to make this again, but do it my way.

Om nom nom,








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