Want a fresh and tasty Asian-inspired chopped salad that’s big on flavor and low in effort? Here it is! Add some protein to make this a complete meal or serve it as a side dish at your next summer picnic!
I’m always on the hunt for easy and delicious ways to get more veggies into my belly—especially nutritious salads that require minimal prep work and appeal to my picky kids. Thankfully, inspiration often strikes when I least expect it.
When I was brainstorming summer vegetable recipes with Regina, our operations manager (a.k.a. my right-hand gal), she casually mentioned that her mom Sophia regularly makes a crowd-pleasing chopped salad with greens, creamy avocado, Persian cucumbers, and crunchy pistachios that she tosses with a store-bought sesame ginger dressing.
Sophia’s salad sounded amazing—with the perfect flavor combination of crunch, creaminess, and zing that’s ideal for hot summer evenings when nobody wants to cook. What’s more, I already have a terrific homemade paleo, vegan, and Whole30 sesame ginger dressing that my boys love, no matter what I drizzle it on (e.g., Air Fryer Carrots).
So thanks to Regina’s offhand comment about her mom’s fantastic salad, here’s your new family favorite salad!
Tips for the best chopped salad
- The sesame ginger dressing is key! If you’re looking for a super versatile Asian-inspired creamy and zesty dressing, make sure you’ve always got a bottle of this Nomster favorite ready to go in the fridge!
- Add a variety of veggies! It’s the interplay of textures and flavors that makes this chopped salad delicious, so make sure you use more than just a store-bought bag of mixed salad greens in this recipe. If you don’t like the veggies I picked for this salad, choose your own: red bell peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, radicchio—whatever floats your boat!
- Don’t forget the garnishes! Although adding nuts and fresh herbs may seem unnecessary, these pops of crunch and herby freshness really put this salad dish over the top.
- Dress the salad when you serve it! Nothing ruins a chopped salad more than soggy greens, so add the salad dressing right before you serve it!
- Sesame Ginger Dressing: this paleo, gluten-free, and Whole30 dressing is perfect if you’re craving an Asian-inspired salad.
- Salad greens: I use a combination of chopped Romaine lettuce and arugula (70% Romaine to 30% arugula) for a nice balance of crisp and spicy greens.
- Sugar snap peas: I love the subtle sweetness and crunch that sugar snap peas add to this salad. Although you may be tempted to skip the blanching and icing part, crisp-tender bright-green sugar snap peas are my favorite addition to this chopped salad. Snow peas are a great substitute if you can’t find sugar snap peas.
- Cucumbers: I love using seedless Persian, Armenian, Japanese or hothouse English cucumbers in this salad ’cause you don’t need to seed or peel them.
- Hass Avocado: Creamy cubes of avocado are non-negotiable in this salad. I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T LIKE AVOCADOS. (I’m kidding. But only kind of.)
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Roasted and salted nuts: I use salted and roasted pistachios to keep everything green, but any nut variety will work (e.g. almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc.) to add an extra crunch. Got a nut allergy? Add some toasted sesame seeds, pepitas, or sunflower seeds. Crispy shallots also add a delicious crunch to this salad.
- Fresh herbs: Thinly sliced chives, green onions, or chopped cilantro add a fresh herbaceous kick to this salad!
How to make chopped salad with sesame ginger dressing
Make the dressing
Blend or whisk up some sesame ginger dressing or grab your bottle from the fridge (and thank your former self for meal prepping!). Make sure you have at least a ½ cup of dressing.
Cook and chill the sugar snap peas
There are two ways to quickly cook sugar snap peas: you can either blanch them by adding the sugar snap peas to a small saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds or until they’re bright green…
…or microwave them in a microwave-safe bowl for 45 to 60 seconds until tender-crisp. (I like to use The Small Dish by Anyday.) Bite one to check the texture!
Dunk the cooked sugar snap peas in an ice bath to chill.
Then, drain the sugar snap peas and chop each pod in half.
Combine the veggies in a bowl
Throw the salad greens and prepped vegetables in a large salad bowl. Season the veggies with salt and pepper.
Toss with the salad dressing
Drizzle on the sesame ginger dressing and toss well. Taste for seasoning and add more dressing or salt and pepper as needed.
Garnish the salad
Sprinkle the pistachios and chopped chives on top and serve!
Can you meal prep this salad?
Er, kind of. You can definitely blanch the sugar snap peas and prepare the dressing up to four days in advance. However, you should cut the cucumbers and avocado right before you serve the salad because they can dry out or turn brown. As I mentioned earlier, the dressing and garnishes should be added right before serving.
How to turn this salad into a main dish
If you’re looking for a one-bowl meal, you can add some protein to this chopped salad recipe to turn it into a hearty entrée. Some of my favorite additions include Ollie’s Cracklin’ Chicken, crisped up Instant Pot Carnitas or Kalua Pig, or leftover Perfect Steak. To keep it meat-less, you can add some chopped up hard-cooked eggs or chickpeas if you tolerate legumes.
Looking for more salad recipes?
Here are some of my favorite Whole30 and paleo salads:
- Pineapple Coleslaw
- Shrimp and Avocado Salad
- Smashed Cucumber and Carrot Salad
- Watercress Salad with Peaches and Prosciutto
- Asian Steak Salad
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- Spicy Mango Cabbage Slaw
- Mexican-Inspired Watermelon Salad
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).
PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD
Chopped Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing (Whole30, Vegan)
- ½ cup Sesame Ginger Dressing
- 1 cup sugar snap peas strings removed
- 6 cups mixed salad greens I like a combination of Romaine lettuce and baby arugula
- 2 Persian cucumbers thinly sliced
- 1 medium Hass avocado peeled, seeded, and cubed
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup shelled dry-roasted and salted pistachios
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- Blend up some sesame ginger dressing or grab your bottle from the fridge. Make sure you have at least a ½ cup of dressing.
- Cook the sugar snap peas by blanching or microwaving:Blanch them by adding the sugar snap peas to a small saucepan filled with boiling water for about 30 seconds and they’re bright green OR microwave them in a microwave-safe bowl for 45 to 60 seconds until tender-crisp. (I like to use a small Anyday bowl.)
- Dunk the sugar snap peas in an ice bath to chill. Then, drain the sugar snap peas and chop each pod in half.
- Throw the salad greens and prepared vegetables in a large salad bowl. Season the veggies with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle on the sesame ginger dressing and toss well. Taste for seasoning and add more dressing or salt and pepper as needed.
- Sprinkle the pistachios and chopped chives on top and serve!