Make-Ahead Chopped Dinner Salad
My favorite last-minute addition is the salted sunflower seeds. A hearty sprinkle gives the salad added flavor and crunch. When I have them on hand, I like to toss in some extra fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and/or chives just before serving. If you prefer to dress with balsamic or another vinaigrette of choice, crumbled feta, goat, or blue cheese would be a tasty addition. This recipe can absolutely be adapted to suit personal preferences, both in terms of amount of any given item or the ingredient itself. If broccoli isn't your favorite, use a combination of cauliflower, blanched green beans, and/or asparagus. Thawed, frozen peas or corn work well, as does chopped cabbage or shredded carrots. Be careful about veggies with a high water content like cucumber, celery, and tomatoes. If you'd like to use them, stir them in prior to serving as opposed to making them a part of the base. That way they won't release their liquid and water down the dressing.

Yields approximately 6 servings, more or less depending on add-in choices


    !For the make-ahead salad base

    • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken (leftover or rotisserie works well; may go to 3 cups for added protein*) (Brined chicken recipe also great)
    • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and well drained (may substitute 2 cups cooked beans)
    • 3 cups broccoli, chopped into very small florets (may briefly blanch or steam or leave raw, as desired)
    • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
    • 3 green onions, sliced
    • 1/2 to 2/3 cup Green Goddess Dressing plus more for serving (may substitute your favorite ranch dressing)

    !The add-ins

    • Romaine lettuce hearts (or other crunchy greens like iceberg or even shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix), chopped
    • Roasted sunflower seeds
    • Crisp, crumbled bacon**
    • Chopped avocado


    1. In a large bowl, mix together the base ingredients, and toss well with the dressing. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
    2. Prior to serving, place the amount you want to eat in a salad bowl and toss with the desired amount add-ins. Drizzle additional dressing, to taste, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Return the base to the fridge for use throughout the week.


    • * Four to five ounces of cooked chicken will yield one cup of chopped chicken. When purchasing raw, account for several ounces of moisture loss during the cooking process. For example, for two cups of chopped, cooked chicken (8 to 10 ounces), purchase 12 to 14 ounces raw boneless, skinless chicken.
    • ** For a no-cook option to the bacon that provides great flavor, add 4 ounces chipped and roughly chopped smoked deli ham to the salad base. You may also experiment with chopped salami or another smoked meat of choice.
    • For another crunchy option to the sunflower seeds, you may use slivered almonds, pepitas, or nuts of choice. Additionally, crumbled tortilla chips make a kid-friendly option.

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