Chopped Salad with Feta, Chickpeas and Pita Croutons
Maybe it's just because I'm a girl, but I love almost any kind of salad -- and the more ingredients, the better. "Chopped salad," a catchall for any salad boasting a rich variety of chopped vegetables, is my favorite. This recipe was inspired by a low-fat dish I first encountered several years ago at Gourmet. Created by chef Ed Brown of New York's Sea Grill Restaurant, its most interesting ingredients were chickpeas and diced dill pickles. As a big fan of crunch, I transported those two items to my everyday chopped salad and then, for good measure, piled on some feta cheese and pita croutons. If you find feta cheese too strong or too salty, substitute ricotta salata, an aged ricotta cheese that has a texture similar to feta but a notch or two less sharpness. As for the pita croutons, use them in any salad, as a garnish for soup or as a partner to a dip.
Mix 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the cumin and paprika in a small bowl. Split each pita horizontally into 2 rounds and brush the rough sides with equal amounts of the oil mixture. Cut the rounds into small triangles or 1-inch pieces and arrange in 1 flat layer on a large baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt when just out of the oven.
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large serving bowl until blended. Slowly pour in the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil, whisking to form a smooth dressing.
Just before serving, pile the arugula and mesclun in the center of the bowl on top of the dressing. Surround with the peppers, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta, pickles, and chicken. Add the pita croutons, toss and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, Broadway Books, 2002