Tropical Chopped Salad

As much as I enjoy playing in the kitchen, I like to balance “project recipes” (I’m looking at you, Paleo Chicken Bastila.) and dead-simple dishes that require almost no work with a big flavor payoff. This Tropical Chopped Salad is part of my series of Super Simple recipes that are made with minimal fuss and just a few ingredients.

Long-time readers know how much I respect and admire Melissa and Dallas Hartwig of Whole9. I was thrilled when they asked me to collaborate with them on the “Meal Maps” that will be included in their soon-to-be-born book It Starts With Food. One of the new recipes I developed is a creamy avocado dressing. I can’t share that recipe quite yet, but I can cough up the recipe for a salad it inspired.

Like it or not (and for the record, I don’t like it), winter barely arrived in Austin this year, and now it’s gone, baby, gone. Our temperatures are hovering in the high ’70s. The xeriscaping in our yard is overrun with green things. The air is oppressive with moisture. My hair is a frizz ball — all indications that SXSW will invade Austin soon, and we’ll begin the downward slide toward 100+ temps and flip flops. I recognize that to sun worshippers, this all probably sounds like a great idea. But I like chilled air that makes my breath catch, scarves and boots, and cozy evenings with a book. I’m pretty much the anti-Texan, really.

However, the warm weather does inspire me to eat things that are cool, crisp, easy to throw together, and colorful. Here’s the one I’ve been craving ever since we took the photo of the super top-secret avocado dressing. Happy spring eating to you!

Tropical Chopped Salad

Prep 5 min. | Flavor Meld 5 min. (optional)

Ingredients, per person:
  • 4-6 oz. cooked wild-caught shrimp or chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 1/3 cup diced ripe mango*

  • 1/4 cup diced ripe avocado*

  • 2/3 cup diced seedless cucumber*

  • 2/3 cup diced red bell pepper*

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced red onion

  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon homemade mayo

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • salt & ground black pepper, to taste

  • minced fresh cilantro leaves, to taste (optional)**

*It’s really pretty and tasty if you chop all the ingredients into equal-sized pieces; I recommend 1/2-inch dice.

**There’s no cilantro in my photo, because I’m not a fan of cilantro. If it’s your thing, go for it!


Place the shrimp, mango, avocado, cucumber, bell pepper, and onion in a bowl. Toss lightly with a rubber scraper to intermingle the ingredients. Go easy so you don’t mush the avocado too much.


Add mayo, lime juice, and cumin to the over the veggies, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir gently and let it rest for 5 minutes (if you can wait) to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings.


Eat with abandon.

BONUS IDEA: Omit the protein in the salad and spoon it over a lovely piece of grilled chicken, pork, or fish.

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