Smoked Salmon, baby arugula, tomatoes, corn, asiago cheese, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), currants, and couscous combine to make a super colorful, flavorful and delicious Chopped Salad!

This recipe was inspired by the Stetson Chopped Salad at Cowboy Ciao Restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz. There are many different interpretations of this salad on various websites; the recipe that is supposed to be the original (from the chef at Cowboy Ciao) can be found here. I especially love this twist on the traditional chopped salad for the spiciness of the arugula, saltiness of the toasted pepitas and the slight tartness of the pesto-buttermilk dressing.

Chopped Smoked Salmon Salad Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make both this colorful salad and the Pesto Buttermilk Dressing that goes with it:

Smoked Salmon Chopped Salad

  • Lemon-flavored (or regular) extra virgin olive oil
  • Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Aged Asiago cheese
  • Toasted pepitas (Mexican pumpkin seeds)
  • Currants
  • Plum (Roma or Italian) tomatoes
  • Baby arugula
  • Corn kernels
  • Smoked salmon

Pesto-Buttermilk Dressing

  • Spinach Basil Pesto (can substitute purchased basil pesto)
  • Shallot
  • Mayonnaise
  • Low fat buttermilk
  • Lemon

How to Make a Salmon Chopped Salad

Here’s all you need to do to make this impressive salad:

  1. Prepare Pesto Buttermilk Dressing.
    Place pesto, shallot and mayonnaise in a food processor and blend.With the motor running, pour in buttermilk. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. Cook couscous.
    In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in Israeli couscous and cook until lightly browned, around 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook just until couscous is al dente, around 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, drain off any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
  3. Prepare cheese mixture.
    In a small mixing bowl, stir together the cheese, pepitas and currants.
  4. Plate salad and serve.
    On 6 shallow bowls or dinner plates (or one large platter), arrange the salad ingredients in rows in the following order – tomatoes, corn, cheese mixture, arugula, couscous and salmon. Pass the dressing on the side.

Best Dressing Flavors for Stetson Chopped Salad with Smoked Salmon

The original Cowboy Ciao Stetson Salad called for a pesto buttermilk dressing, which I use as well. I think the flavors in the pesto – sweet basil, sharp garlic in particular – and the tangy buttermilk are the perfect complement to the salad ingredients. An alternative dressing would be our Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette.

Substitutions for Smoked Salmon Salad

If you want to vary this salad a bit, here are some alternative ingredients you can use:

  • Smoked salmon – substitute cooked (not smoked) salmon or cooked chicken
  • Corn kernels – the original recipe called for freeze dried corn [Freeze Dried Corn]; you could also use corn nuts or toasted corn
  • Arugula – substitute chopped baby spinach leaves
  • Israeli couscous – use cooked orzo pasta, regular couscous, quinoa or rice
  • Currants – use raisins
  • Pepitas – substitute toasted sunflower seeds, almonds or pistachios
  • Asiago cheese – use Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Fontina or Monterey Jack
    -Plum tomatoes – use regular tomatoes

Smoked Salmon Salad Recipe FAQ

What does chopped mean for salad?

When a salad is referred to as “chopped” it means that all the ingredients have been prepared very small (think finely chopped or even diced) and to approximately the same size, including the greens. Chopped salads can either be served arranged (in rows) or tossed.

How do you cut a chopped salad?

There are three ingredients you will need to chop for this salad – tomatoes, salmon and arugula. Here’s how to chop each:
Plum (Italian or Roma) tomatoes – cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out seeds. Then place the cut-size down (to keep the tomato half from rolling around) and cut into slices. Lay the slices flat and cut again to the desired size.
Smoked salmon – simply place the salmon pieces on a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch strips. Turn the strips 90 degrees and cut again.
Baby arugula – Remove any long stems from the arugula leaves. Place a pile of leaves on a cutting board, and chop, working from one side to the other. Rotate the pile 90 degrees, and chop again. Keep rotating and chopping until the leaves are the desired size.

Do you have to cook smoked salmon?

No, you don’t have to cook smoked salmon – it’s safe to eat without any further cooking or heating.

Print
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Smoked Salmon chopped salad with ingredients all in rows, like a cobb salad.

Smoked Salmon Chopped Salad with Pesto-Buttermilk Dressing

  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

Pesto Buttermilk Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Spinach Basil Pesto (can substitute purchased basil pesto)
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I like to use mayonnaise made with olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • squeeze of lemon
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Smoked Salmon Chopped Salad

  • 1 tablespoon lemon-flavored olive oil (can substitute plain olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 ounces aged Asiago cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup toasted pepitas (Mexican pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 2 cups chopped seeded plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped baby arugula
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (see Notes below)
  • 8 ounces chopped smoked salmon (see Notes below)

Instructions

Pesto Buttermilk Dressing

  1. Place the pesto, shallot and mayonnaise in a food processor and blend.
  2. With the motor running, pour in the buttermilk. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend.
  3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.

Smoked Salmon Chopped Salad

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the Israeli couscous and cook until lightly browned, around 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook just until the couscous is al dente, around 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, drain off any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the cheese, pepitas and currants.
  4. On 6 shallow bowls or dinner plates (or one large platter), arrange the salad ingredients in rows in the following order – tomatoes, corn, cheese mixture, arugula, couscous and salmon.
  5. Pass the dressing on the side.

Notes

Note on corn: I like to use fresh, frozen organic that is thawed, or freeze-dried. The latter adds additional crunchy texture to the salad.

Note on salmon: You can use either honey smoked (which is usually a thicker piece) or gravlax-style – it’s delicious either way!

Make ahead: dressing and cheese mixture can be made up to 2 days ahead, placed in separate airtight containers and stored in the refrigerator.

Gluten free: Substitute quinoa for the couscous. Use gluten free mayonnaise.

  • Author: Adapted from Cowboy Ciao Restaurant’s Recipe
  • Category: Main dish, gluten free
Smoked-salmon-chopped-salad-www.seasonedkitchen.com

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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Comments

  1. What a beautiful salad…and I absolutely love smoked salmon. One of my favorite breakfasts is a bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers. I also put it in pasta. I’ve never tried it in a salad, but this looks delicious! Thank you for sharing it with us at #FoodieFriDIY…I am sharing it on my Facebook page right now.

  2. I had this salad three times in the past week and enjoyed the third as much as I did the first. It was wonderful! The combination of flavors and textures is difficult, at best, to discribe. An outstanding salad whether as a salad prior to the main course or as a meal in itself, is is absolutly delicious.

  3. I made a similar recipe using fresh basil leaves and now I can not find it because the link could not be reached anymore. Do you have the original using the basil leaves? Thanks, Mary