RECIPE: Bushwick Chopped Salad

RECIPE: Bushwick Chopped Salad

When I lived in New York, a lot of weird things happened. This is neither surprising, nor shocking, but what is both of those things is the fact that most of the weird things that happened to me involved being given things for free. There was free cannoli, free mariachi, free rubber goldfish, free eye shadow, free trophies, free prescription medication, and even a free ride in a squad car.

Then there was the salad.

There are many places a free salad would make sense: a restaurant, a café, a bar and grill, a brewpub, the office, your grandmother’s linen-draped dining room table, to name a few.

The yin to the yang is that there are places where a free salad makes absolutely no sense. None. Whatsoever. One of these places is next to an abandoned lot in the far reaches of what some people realllly want to brand as East Williamsburg, but is really Bushwick.

It was as regular a Friday afternoon as any and I was sauntering down the graffiti-streaked, glass-littered street with three of my coworkers during our lunch break. Without warning, what appeared to be a police car swerved next to us and the decidedly casual flannel-clad guy inside flicked his hand in my direction, motioning for me to come closer.

I looked at my coworkers, I looked at the guy. I looked at my coworkers, I looked at the guy. Curious, I finally leaned in. “Yes?”

The officer / grand theft auto expert reached down beneath the passenger seat and produced a garden salad from Wendy’s, neatly tucked inside a plastic hexagonal container. He waved it towards the window and said, “Hey, you want this salad? I didn’t touch it. C’mon, want it?”

We stood in silence, the four of us.

“C’mon, just take the salad. It’s fresh.” I told him I already had lunch, but appreciated the gesture, and he drove off in disgust, prompting my friend Laura to remark, “For the rest of our lives, I’m going to be able to say to you, ‘Remember that time that cop offered you a salad?’” And I just nodded in stunned agreement.

So basically, here’s a recipe for a salad I invented today. This story has no relevance to the salad itself, except for the fact that whenever I think about the word “salad,” I think about that day in Bushwick.


* hearty handful of a variety of lettuces
* 10 cherry tomatoes
* 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
* 1/4 cup salted, dry-roasted pistachios (unsalted if you’d like)
* 4-6 small button mushrooms
* 2 slices of deli turkey
* 4 turns of Trader Joe’s garlic salt with parsley

Cut everything except the feta, pistachios, and salt into tiny squarish pieces. Dump everything in a large bowl and mix with your hands (or utensils, if you’re more civilized than I am). Eat it and be glad it didn’t come in a plastic hexagonal container delivered by a guy in a stolen cop car.