Summer Chop Salad with Homemade Avocado Ranch Dressing


The Scoop:

Let’s talk about mix tapes.  Where my 90’s kids at??  Do we all remember patiently sitting by our boombox-double-tape-deck-radio, finger carefully perched  over the record button, waiting for that new Savage Garden song to come on?

Gahhhhhhhhh, I didn’t rewind enough and just recorded over My Heart Will Go On!!!

What about burning cd’s?  *insert collective nod from all the 2000’s teenagers*  We killed it with those burned cd’s in their neon colored cases and carefully Sharpied covers.  I typically just burned discs at my friend Katie’s house, but if I’m being honest here, I was insanely jealous of the girls  who were swapping tunes with cute boys.  I would have absolutely died if  a boy ever dropped a cd off at my locker and popped it in my discman, only to hear sweet love songs like 3 Doors Down Here Without You or Edwin McCain I’ll Be.  But alas, I never was never that lucky.


So that brings us to playlists.  The modern day 2013 answer to  the mix tape.  We are far too high tech these days to ever  dream of  owning  music in a physical form, so it’s gone digital like the rest of our lives.  Instead of swinging by your friend’s locker and sliding a disc into the pocket of their Jansport backpack, we now say things like: “Hey download this new app.  It’ll give you access to my iTunes and I’ve got a playlist with your name on it.” Or, “Do you have a Grooveshark account?  I just perfected a playlist that will change your mind about country music.”

There may be something a little less dazzling about swapping playlists as opposed to receiving a real live burned cd, but that being said, the one time in my adult whole life that a guy wanted to exchange playlists with me, well my insides melted faster than an ice cream cone on a summer day.  My inner I-clearly-never-dated-as-a-teenager teenager totally started squealing with delight.  (although my “uber-mature” 26 year old self stayed cool and calm on the outside.)  But seriously, can you see the hearts and stars in my eyes from across screen??


So getting back to the food… I believe chop salads are the mix tapes of the vegetable world.


Just hang with me here.

Your chopped lettuce is the veggie equivalent of a blank cassette tape, a canvas waiting to be filled.  And your toppings are your songs.  There’s typically a theme (let’s say late 90’s pop), but the ingredients aren’t necessarily something you would match together in your typical meal (in the way that the Backstreet Boys ended up on the same side of your tape as Sugar Ray, Mariah Carey and Chumbawamba).  Somehow though, the melodies flavors blend together into a whole that is far greater than the sum of the parts.

Also, while we are discussing mix tapes and salads and such, can someone tell me if it’s a CHOPPED salad or a CHOP salad.  I call it a CHOP salad.  I also call it a MIX tape.  But is it really a CHOPPED Salad and a MIXED tape.  Past tense, present tense, I don’t know, what’s everyone thinking?


The Goods:



  • 2 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/4 cup small grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup orange pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup pineapple tidbits
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 6 large shrimp
  • salt
  • smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbs olive oil


  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 6 oz container plain Greek yogurt
  • 3-4 Tbs buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder


The Deets:

For the dressing combine the meat from a ripe avocado, a 6 oz plain Greek yogurt, the garlic salt, onion powder, and dill weed in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times.  Run the food processor on high until the dressing is almost smooth.  Add 3 Tbs of buttermilk and process again until completely smooth.  Add more buttermilk, 1 Tbs at a time, and continue processing until the desired consistency is reached.  Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

We’ve gone over this before, but it feels really condescending to tell you how to make a salad because… well… we’re not idiots.  So I’ll just give you some pointers specific to this one.

I like to start my chop salads with a bed of crispy romaine lettuce because its hearty enough to stand up against all of those toppings.

When making a chop salad we want all of our toppings to be approximately the same size, so I like to dice up the pepper and cucumber.  If using canned pineapple, purchase the tidbits, which are already the perfect size for a chop salad.  If using fresh pineapple like I did, then slice it into pieces similar in size to the cucumbers and peppers.  My grape tomatoes were tiny, so I left them alone.  If yours are larger, you’ll want to slice them in half.

Cook two strips of bacon until crispy, then drain it on a paper towel and crumble it.

Season 6 peeled and deviened shrimp with sea salt and smoked paprika.  Cook on the stove top in 1 Tbs of olive oil until pink (about 1 minute per side) then remove from the pan and cut into  small pieces.

In a large bowl combine the tomato, cucumber, pepper, pineapple, shrimp, and bacon along with 2 Tbs of blue cheese crumbles and 2 Tbs of homemade avocado ranch dressing.  Toss all of the ingredients until evenly coated in dressing and serve them on a bed of chopped romaine.

The Inspiration:

The salad is a combination of my summer favorites and the dressing is a spin on this recipe.

Looking for another great summer salad?  Check out this one that I posted recently.


I like this almost as much as I like cheesy 90’s love songs.


Tall One


2 thoughts on “Summer Chop Salad with Homemade Avocado Ranch Dressing

  1. IMO they are MIX tapes and CHOPPED salads. But I’m on the young end of the 90’s crowd–while I definitely remember attempting to record songs onto tapes, it wasn’t quite a hobby for me. 😉

    Also, I love the idea of shrimp+pineapple on this salad! So yummy.

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