Several years ago there used to be a pretty fair and reliable restaurant called Cucina Cucina with several locations around the Pacific Northwest of Washington state, owned by the Schwartz Brothers franchise (if I’m not mistaken). I recall frequenting their Tacoma and Seattle waterfront locations often. They served pretty standard quick & easy Italian including tasty pizzas and pastas. What made it a destination for me, besides tasting good, was that they used fresh ingredients. I adored their Chopped Salad and would order nothing else, besides perhaps their Toscano Bread with roasted elephant garlic and a dessert.
I recently became curious to see if I could track down a recipe for the Cucina Chopped Salad (see below). While this is a fantastic salad, unless you work in a restaurant where all the items are already prepped for you and all you need to do is throw them in a bowl, dress, and toss; this salad takes a fair amount of prep work . . . but you’ll be happy you took the time. A little trick to making the investment worth it, if you are going to the trouble anyway is to get all the prepped ingredients in a bowl (dressing separate), toss and then dish out your serving into another bowl. Only dress the portion you are going to eat and put the undressed (covered) bowl in the fridge for tomorrow.
What I love about this salad is it darn near has everything: lots of fresh veggies, protein, creaminess from the cheeses, and texture from the garbanzos. You can even add more things if you like: sunflower seeds, red pepper, cucumber, capers, bread cubes (panzanella style) or croutons, you name it. The vinaigrette is perfect, extremely flavorful but not to strong, it highlights the salad beautifully. Man, do I love this salad!
Yesterday I purchased The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and as usual, it inspired me. The Cheddar Dill Scones were listed under breakfast, but I thought due to their savory components, they would go well with the salad.
I thought it was odd when my Kitchen Aid mixer had a bit of trouble with the diced cold ¾ lb. butter and the small diced ½ lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese. I didn’t have the arm locked into place and it seemed to jump and lift slightly whilst trying to incorporate the hard butter and cheese. After adding the final elements, the dough balled up and didn’t seem to want to mix anymore and so on to a well-floured surface it went to be kneaded. Boy is dough sticky . . . and messy!
Now, we or I need to take into account that they ARE scones and by definition, a scone is a denser pastry, not cake or muffin like in lightness, moistness or texture. For some reason, I was expecting them to be moister, but it seems I just need to adjust my expectations to suite the scone. Alone, I think they call for something more, perhaps a little cream cheese, caper & smoked salmon. But together with the salad, they offered the perfect balance of bread / carb group to salad group ratio.