Friends, I’m still here, holding on for dear life and still processing the chaos that has turned spring into summer with the blink of an eye. The kids are off for the summer and we’ve had major life-changing sort of things happen over the last few months. *deep breath*
I’ve been waiting for the right moment for my big reveal in this little space and I’ve finally mustered up the courage to announce that our family is moving this summer. Not just moving down the street and into a new house but M-O-V-I-N-G. Out of Chicago. And to Boston. That statement is very real to me now that I’ve said, erm, written it out loud.
Yup, it’s a halfway across the country move with four kids. It’s raw and it’s emotional. My Chicago loyal heart is aching at the thought of leaving my entire life behind. Leaving home, as an adult. I get it. People move ALL. THE. TIME. But for me, aside from the immigrant part of me, Chicago has been my one and only home. And leaving your one and only home+ family at 33 is kinda hard to do. Side note: soon to be 34, woah!
I willed myself not to fall in love with Boston, because, Chicago>Boston. But you guys, the idea of Boston is growing on me. Be still my achy breaky, Chicago-loving heart 💔. I can love two places at once though, right? So I spent my entire spring decluttering. I mean living, breathing, dreaming decluttering. And it’s finally done. DONE! Side note: apparently you’re supposed to declutter your house often and not aspire to hoard every single thing you’ve ever brought since you were born. I’ve donated/purged/burned/left out on the curb close to 10 million things in hopes of redemption. And now my house feels airy. And BIG. With all my photography and blogging equipment stored away for the big move. Until I just realized that a girl’s gotta eat, amiright? And a girl has to blog all of the things.
Our house officially went on the market last week so my cooking is now limited to simple and easy meals. Or eating out. And there is only so much eating out you can do before the nostalgia of a home cooked meal hits you. Even if it’s a simple salad like the buffalo chicken salad or autumn harvest bowl. I mean, it’s summer and the grocery stores are teeming with fresh lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, veggies, begging to be used.
I was set to make the autumn harvest salad, but this morning, I woke up fiercely craving an italian meats and cheese sub sort of post-0fasting meal. I crave deli meat exactly zero times a year. Especially because the classic italian sub is made with various types of cured pork which limits my opportunity to have them to never times. So I substitute with all-beef cured meats, like beef salami and beef mortadella. This is also what The Mister requested for his Father’s Day dinner last year– a hearty, italian cold cuts sandwich. Meats, lots of cheese, veggies piled high on a crusty bread- holy sandwich, batman!
This chopped antipasto salad is all that sandwich in a bowl. Translation: less mess, less-ish carbs, no potential for soggy bread or greasy, crumby fingers. I could eat this all day, everyday. Adding more veggies, chopped, hearty pieces of meat, cheese, hot peppers if you please, and a tangy, herby dressing makes this a potentially lighter meal than a sandwich. I also swapped out the traditional iceberg lettuce in favor of the robust, nutritious, and crisp romaine. Did I mention the protein packed chickpeas? This antipasto salad is salad goals.
This chopped antipasto salad is also all things summer:
- full of pretty reds, greens, yellows, and purples. Seriously guys, eat the rainbow!
- perfect for all those garden ripe, super sweet, juicy summer tomatoes
- and what goes perfectly with those tomatoes than the beautiful basil you’ve been growing in that container? Go you– look at you with your mad gardening skillZ!
- take it to that backyard bbq as a replacement for the traditional pasta salad and become the party hero–or be wild and toss some al dente pasta into the salad, toss and take– you rebel, you.
- fully customizable. Don’t like salami? Substitute pepperoni or mortadella. Not crazy about provolone? No problem, just sub in a cheese of your choice- Hi, pepper jack, I see you and I smell you.
- did I mention that no stove or oven action necessary???
If you’re feeling spicy and want to kick up the heat in this salad, introduce yourself to some giardiniera. It is a life changing condiment, with hot peppers, olives, carrots, celery, red peppers, and sometimes cauliflower, packed and pickled in olive oil. I like to finely dice giardiniera into my antipasto salad and watch the flavors come alive. I usually have a few jars on hand because you never know when a giardiniera situation may arise. Like mixed into grits, on top of eggs, or finely diced to top toast. Hello Lover! Giardiniera is also a very Chicago based food. But don’t worry Boston, and the rest of the world, it’s coming for you. We will make you fall in love with giardiniera and you will be eating it all day, every day.
The most complicated part of this salad is the chopping. That’s it. All you need are some adequate knife skills- like hardly any, because let’s face it, my hands ALWAYS have cuts that show off my lack of mad knife skillz- and you’ll be on your way to having the summer’s best ever salad. The trick is to do a uniform dice and chop– that’s what makes this bowl worthy and spoon worthy. And anyone who knows me know my love for eating all things in bowls. Major points if I don’t get any on myself. I prep all the veggies, dice the salami and cheese, refrigerate, and wait to dress the salad right before serving. Prep in the morning- come home from work and toss in the dressing. Easy peasy.
We like to be liberal with fresh herbs around here. Especially when we can finally get generous bunches of fresh, fragrant basil for less the cost of a kidney in the summertime. Also an excellent way to show off that gardening swag. This summer, I’ll keep it limited to showing off my Trader Joe’s produce swag. I used a big handful of basil leaves, stacked them up, tightly rolled them, and then cut them into thin ribbons. Toss in the salad, over the salad, and smell that sweetness.
This salad speaks to my heart. It tells me that, despite everything, from major life changes, to struggles of just eating that frozen pizza I’ve had stashed in the back of the freezer because I just want to binge watch Netflix and eat pizza, I can still fake cook in the summer. Especially in the summer. It says don’t bother turning the stove on, it’s too hot– eat a cold salad but make it hearty. It also says, let’s have some friends over- or dinner with just you and bae- and celebrate just for fun. Because why should celebrations be limited to specific times?
It’s teaches me that lyfe is too short to not eat good food so let’s just go ahead and enjoy every last bite.
Have you made this salad? Share your picture on insta and tag me @mannaandspice
- 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
- 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup sliced black olives
- 1 15.5oz can chickpeas, drained (or 1¾ cups)
- 1 cup roasted red peppers (jarred is 100% fine)
- 4 oz provolone cheese, cubed (or cheese of choice like pepper jack or mozzarella pearls)
- 8 oz salami, cubed
- handful basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
- handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- optional: 2 tbsp giardiniera peppers, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice or juice of 1 small lemon+zest
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- Combine all the dressing ingredients into a blender bowl and blend until everything is processed and smooth. Store separately, covered in the fridge. Shake well before using.
- Toss remaining ingredients into a large bowl, add dressing and toss to coat with two large spoons. Serve immediately.
The olive oil may harden while refrigerated. To liquefy, simply leave on the counter for 30 mins and bring to room temp.