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!


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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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23 Responses to “Tropical Chopped Salad”

  1. Melissa says:

    OMG, that looks so good. I love that flavor combo!

  2. Reminds me of this one, which I just had yesterday:

    Must try it with the cumin and mayo though – since I bought your book I’m totally hooked on homemade mayo, so thank you for that :)

  3. Melissa says:

    I’m with you on the weather! Bet this salad would be good with firm grilled salmon filet chunked too.

  4. Yummo. Perfect food for a summer in Sydney, thanks!

  5. dana g says:

    WHen I first saw this headline I thought you wrote “Tragical Chopped Salad.” I thought….what happened to her chopped salad?!

  6. Leslie says:

    I don’t like cilantro, either.

    I made your Moroccan Dipping Sauce tonight and was wondering what I should sub for the cilantro…I ended up using chives (it’s what I had), but now am wondering what you use in place of it?

  7. Kellie says:

    Sounds delish!
    Am I’m missing where to add the chopped onion though? I don’t see it in the instructions.
    Also, I’m very very intrigued by the creamy avocado dressing, must I wait til June?!?

  8. Patty says:

    I’m with you on the missing winter Mel! But on the bright side, the heating bill was low and more importantly, it looks like homegrown tomatoes will get here sooner! And I’ll have to try your beautiful salad with extra cilantro…I love the stuff. :-)

  9. AustinGirl says:

    I am yearning for that avocado dressing and cannot wait to see it! This recipe looks great, esp with Tx Gulf shrimp all over the place right now. Yay!
    Have you seen Ball’s plastic 8oz jars yet (clear jar with a lime green lid)? You can lock them onto each other for easy storage, and write directly on them. I am pretty sure that I read that they’re BPA free too. I’ve been using them for spice storage and they’ve transformed my spice cabinet. Wal-mart has them for about $3 for a package of 5.

  10. Kelly R. says:

    I will be dreaming of creamy avocado until the recipe is officially released. I am completely obsessed with your homemade mayo and all of the different uses for it. Southwest cumin lime dressing, anyone?

    I am in Minneapolis and last week was our first big snowfall. This week it was 55 degrees. Next week it is supposed to be 65. Where is my lovely winter snow?

  11. Amanda says:

    I just made this and was slightly skeptical because I normally dislike cucumbers and raw onions. I thought it best to trust you and try it…so glad I did. THIS IS DELISH!

  12. Mel says:

    I’m so glad you guys like this recipe. I’ll see if I can come up with some more Super Simple and crazy-good ones for you!

  13. Brittany says:

    The weather has warmed up to the high 60s here in rainy Portland, OR and I’m making this salad for dinner – for the second time in two weeks. Bring on the simple summer salads, Mel!

    • Mel says:

      It’s getting REALLY warm here, so yeah — maybe I’ll start thinking about some more fun salads for the summer. Thanks for the suggestion! Glad you like this recipe.

  14. Cadence says:

    Oh my word. I just threw this together for dinner tonight and I don’t want to share with the rest of my family! It’s perfect for a HOT Spanish evening :)

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  18. Becky Castilleja says:

    I will be making this for my husband and myself!!!

  19. Camille says:

    I made this with crab and it was amazing! Thanks for staving off the Whole 30 food rut.

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