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story.lead_photo.caption Chopped salads are not only neater to eat because the ingredients are cut into a uniform size and shape, they also better distribute separate flavors into a cohesive forkful. (Dreamstime/TNS)

My Nana was a stickler for tearing salad greens into uniform, "bite-size" pieces. She despised floppy leaves that slopped dressing when maneuvering unwieldy ingredients into her mouth.

Enter the modern chopped salad: They are not only neater to eat because the ingredients are cut into a uniform size and shape, they also better distribute separate flavors into a cohesive forkful.

There is a national chain called Chop't offering long lists of customizable chopped salad greens, topping and dressings. Subway and trendy supermarkets offer a wide variety of chopped salads, although they can be pricey.

The Star's Italian chopped salad with pasta is a simple salad to prepare and one the whole family will enjoy.

Preparation tip: Chopped salads are a great way to practice your knife skills. If you own a crescent-shaped mezzaluna blade, this is a great time to use it, but any sharp knife will do.

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ITALIAN CHOPPED SALAD WITH PASTA

Makes: 8-10 servings

Dressing

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

3/4 cup small shell pasta

2 heads of hearts of romaine, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3 green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

3 slices turkey bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola

Place the dressing ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender to process until smooth; set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and allow to cool. Place pasta in a salad bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients and toss to combine.

Drizzle with dressing, toss and serve immediately.

Per serving, based on 8: 140 calories (51% from fat), 8 g total fat (3 g saturated), 13 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 214 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber.

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