It's been two weeks since we got back from Italy and we still haven't had an Italian meal. We were so full from amazing cheese, meat, wine and pasta that all we wanted was a salad. Anything with crisp, cold greens and light dressing.
Enter La Scala's Original Leon's Chopped Salad. La Scala has been one of my favorite LA restaurants since I was in high school. Only God knows how many Leon's Chopped Salads I've consumed (it's easily more than 100). Just namedrop "Leon's Original Chopped" to any Angeleno within 10 miles of Beverly Hills or Brentwood and the response will be, "Oh.My.God. I LOVE that salad!"
La Scala Beverly Hills location
So what's so magical about La Scala's Leon's salad? It's just so light, crisp and...uncomplicated. There's nothing fancy about it. Nothing pretentious. It's just lettuce, salami, mozzarella cheese, marinated garbanzo beans and one Kalamata olive on top. The famous "Leon" dressing is tart yet light, full of red vinegar and what I can only imagine is some olive oil, salt and pepper.
Not a salami fan? No worries. La Scala has catered to every Angeleno low-carb diet in town. You can get chopped tuna, turkey, or my personal favorite, hot grilled chicken (also chopped) on top. They grill the chicken to order and the heat is a great contrast to the chilled salad.
While I would love nothing more than to go to La Scala every day of my life and get this salad, at a minimum of $10 per half salad, La Scala has made a pretty penny off of me in my lifetime. That said, I decided to recreate the salad at home and save lots of dough. I try to do this with many of my favorite restaurant meals; it's not only fun and a money-saver, it's a great way to experiment and test your kitchen chops (pun intended). Leon's dressing was a tough one but I think I've cracked the code. I've also added a few personal touches along the way, so feel free to ignore them if you're a Leon's purist.
I finely chopped lettuce, salami, basil, turkey, shallot and Parmesan cheese. I rinsed and added whole garbanzo beans and cracked some fresh pepper over the mixture. Then I whisked together two tablespoons red wine vinegar and one tablespoon of light champagne salad dressing and poured it on top. Toss the salad and you've got a plate full of chopped deliciousness! It's a fantastic hot weather meal or light dinner; I can't wait to ditch the turkey and salami and try it with a grilled (and chopped) chicken cutlet on top. I've made it three days in a row and Bryan even gave me the seal of approval.