Ventura Blvd. chopped salad

This has quickly become one of Mary Jo Eustace's favorite salads and is crazy simple to make.

This has quickly become Mary Jo Eustace’s favorite salads and is crazy simple to make. Pair it with a glass of crisp, white wine and great company.

Ventura Blvd. chopped salad

Serves 4


2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
5 to 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp fresh thyme or rosemary, chopped (optional)
6 strips of bacon
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup hearts of palm, cut on the bias
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper


1. Preheat your oven to 375 F (190 C). Toss the chicken in 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Place the chicken on a baking pan and into the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until done. Remove and set aside to cool, then cut into cubes. You can also amp up the flavor by adding 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary!

2. In a non-stick frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Allow to cool, then chop and set aside.

3. Place the chopped romaine in a large bowl. Add the diced chicken, bacon, hearts of palm, tomatoes, and avocado. The goal is to have everything chopped to roughly the same size. Add the feta, pistachios and fresh basil. Toss well and lightly dress, drizzling with the remaining 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Add lots of salt and cracked black pepper.

Note: Why not try adding some thinly sliced beef tenderloin, stir-fried in sesame oil? Toss it with toasted sesame seeds for an extra punch. Or make it totally vegetarian. Take out the chicken and add some red and yellow beets. Or try sweet potatoes.

Feel free to replace the olive oil and vinegar with the Citrus Mash salad dressing below.

Citrus mash

Makes approximately 1 cup

This is a light, fresh dressing that’s great for summer evenings. It can be used in chopped salads and over greens made with denser vegetables like beets or butternut squash when you want to lighten things up. The honey and hint of basil give it a nice bite without being too sweet or heavy. This recipe will dress two or three salads. So, you’ll always have some in the refrigerator.


1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup rice-wine, apple-cider or white vinegar
5 tbsp juice of a fresh orange
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp juice of a fresh grapefruit
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp orange or lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste


1. In a small bowl, whisk together shallot, vinegar, orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit juices.

2. Add the olive oil slowly as it emulsifies and thickens the dressing.

3. Finish with the honey, chopped basil, and zest.

4. Season with salt and pepper. Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator.

Courtesy Mary Jo Eustace