The appeal of a chopped salad is that all the ingredients are cut to a uniform size and tossed together, permitting a taste of everything in each bite.

Virtually any ingredients may be used, yet many chopped salads are uninspired, laden with deli meats and cheeses and drowned in dressing. With a world of options at our disposal, we started with a summery salad full of vegetables and then steered a second salad in a Mediterranean direction.

Some vegetables get watery and soggy when you chop and dress them and require extra attention. For both salads, we salted the tomatoes and cucumbers to draw out their excess moisture before adding them. 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 intensifies their flavor. Be sure to add the lettuce just before serving, or it will turn soggy.

For the summer vegetable salad, we chose sweet yellow bell pepper, red onion and peppery radishes and tossed them all with chopped romaine lettuce hearts.

The Mediterranean salad trades romaine for escarole, a member of the chicory family. The underused leafy green is loaded with vitamins and has a mild bitterness that pairs well with bold flavors.

To make the salad hearty, we incorporated nutty chickpeas. Kalamata olives added richness, walnuts brought crunch and healthy fats, and a sprinkling of briny feta rounded out the flavors.

SUMMER VEGETABLE CHOPPED SALAD

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

3 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

11/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, quartered

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

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 the cucumbers and tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt, and let drain in a colander for 15 minutes.

Whisk the vinegar, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the oil. Add the drained cucumbers and tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, radishes, and parsley, and toss to coat.

Let salad sit for at least 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes.

Add the lettuce, and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 215 calories; 129 calories from fat; 15 g fat (2 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 334 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 4 g protein.

 

MEDITERRANEAN CHOPPED SALAD

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 6

1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 small red onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 head escarole (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Toss the cucumber and tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt, and let drain in a colander for 15 minutes.

Whisk the vinegar and garlic together in a large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the oil. Add the drained cucumber-tomato mixture, chickpeas, olives, onion and parsley, and toss to coat.

Let salad sit for at least 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes.

Add the escarole, feta and walnuts, and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 309 calories; 202 calories from fat; 22 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 11 mg cholesterol; 743 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 9 g protein.