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HomeLifestyleThis La Scala-inspired chopped salad has gone viral. Here’s why — and...

This La Scala-inspired chopped salad has gone viral. Here’s why — and how to make it.

It’s not every day that something as benign as a salad goes viral, but here we are. The La Scala salad, which is essentially an Italian chopped salad made of lettuce, salami, mozzarella and garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), is all over social media, with nutritionists and foodies sharing how to make the easy dish. While this type of salad is more popular than ever — Google Trends recently reported that searches for “chopped salad” are at an all-time high — it’s been around for decades. The La Scala chopped salad reportedly originates from a Beverly Hills restaurant of the same name that introduced it in the 1950s (and it’s still on the restaurant’s menu), while some attribute the salad’s more recent surge in popularity to the Kardashians and other celebrities being fans of the tasty meal.

So what is it about this salad that has some people salivating? And how do you make it? Here’s what you need to know.

Why is this chopped salad popular?

“As with many things in today’s world, we can thank a celebrity and social media, in this case, the Kardashians, for this salad’s popularity,” Keri Gans, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet, tells Yahoo Life. But beyond the celebrity factor, Gans says that when a salad is chopped and tossed, “it combines all the ingredients, adding more flavor to each forkful.”

Julie Pace, founder and dietitian at Core Nutrition + Wellness, agrees, telling Yahoo Life: “Chopped salads have become popular because they’re versatile, colorful and so easy to prepare. With fresh ingredients chopped into bite-sized pieces, they’re visually appealing and a convenient way to enjoy a variety of flavors and textures in each bite.”

In making a delicious salad, Pace says that dressing plays “a significant role” but notes that “various textures and flavors, such as crunchy nuts, crisp veggies, creamy avocado or tangy cheese can elevate the salad’s taste profile. Overall, the dressing should complement and enhance the flavors of the salad ingredients without overpowering them.”

Is it healthy?

Overall, the La Scala salad includes lots of healthy ingredients such as chickpeas, lettuce and olive oil, says Gans. Vanessa Rissetto, registered dietitian and chief executive officer of Culina Health, calls out the salad’s high-fiber chickpeas in particular, adding that they’re also a “good source of protein.”

However, Gans notes that the salad “may also skew on the high sodium side because of salami. As far as cheeses go, mozzarella is lower in saturated fat and sodium than many options. If an individual is on a low-sodium diet they may want to only enjoy this salad on occasion.”

Pace says opting for minimally processed ingredients and choosing dressings low in saturated fat, such as vinaigrettes, can contribute to a healthier option.

What are some misperceptions people have about salads?

Salads aren’t just a side dish — they can be a meal in themselves. The key, say all three experts, is making sure salads have enough protein so you’re not left hungry an hour after eating them. Pace says that salads can be a satisfying meal “when they include adequate protein and fiber to promote fullness. Incorporating sources of healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds can also contribute to satiety.”

The mistake that some make when putting together salads, says Rissetto, is when “people just put iceberg lettuce and lots of dressing, but forget things like protein for fullness and maybe some cheese for flavor. Nuts and seeds for omegas. There’s a lot more than just a dry piece of chicken to make your salad amazing — you just have to get creative!” Besides grilled chicken, Gans says that good sources of protein include salmon, legumes or shrimp.

Gans also notes that salads are not necessarily low in calories and in some instances, “it can be rather high,” adding: “One should be careful of the amount of salad dressing used, especially if it contains olive oil or other fats, as the calories could add up quickly.”

But overall, Gans says that “a salad is an opportunity to get many nutritious foods into your diet at one meal.”

What’s the recipe?

If you’d like to try making this chopped salad at home, you can find lots of recipes online. Here’s a recipe by chef and Big Bites cookbook author Kathleen Ashmore, who describes it as “like an Italian sub in salad form.”

Salad ingredients:

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, rinsed and finely chopped

  • 1 ⁄4 lb. Italian salami, julienned

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1 15 1/2 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and well-drained

Dressing ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper

  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano OR parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Instructions:

  1. To make vinaigrette: In a large serving bowl, combine oil, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste; whisk until well blended.

  2. To the bowl, combine lettuce, salami, mozzarella and garbanzo beans. Toss with vinaigrette to coat well.

  3. Finish with more pecorino and salt and black pepper, if desired.

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