Smashed Salad

smash salad

We’ve been traveling around Alberta a lot lately, discovering new places we didn’t know existed. This past weekend, we found ourselves in Elkwater, a tiny camping-cabin community in Cypress Hills interprovincial park, which overlaps the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Elkwater there’s an eatery called Camp Cookhouse and General Store, which is just the best place ever.

Exhibit A.

Camp 1

Exhibit B.
Camp 2

This is the salad I fell in love with. It was one of the side options, along with fries and the like, that you could get with your burger or sandwich. (The burger, by the way, with mushrooms and Gouda? Divine.) Also, can we talk about those painted bundt pans for a minute? Why do I never think of these things when it comes to kitchen decor?

So the salad, which they call a smash salad, was based on chunks of baby cucumber, radish and jicama – they weren’t so much sliced into chunks as somehow broken into jagged pieces – and tossed with chickpeas (which I see now are also roughly bashed – noted), feta, fresh mint and basil, scallions and a sort of creamy-tangy dressing, and topped with peanuts. You could order a bigger version with smoked chicken, too.

smash salad 2

I love a chopped salad, and I somehow love this even more – I love that it’s chunky but not too heavy, that it has a ton of crunch from the jicama and pepperiness from the radishes, which I always buy but often don’t get around to using. I had the sad end of a bunch of cilantro in the fridge, so salvaged what I could to make a spicy, garlicky green dressing that I came up with awhile ago to replicate a creamy cilantro salsa I can’t get enough of from the farmers’ market. And because I always eat that salsa (which is perfectly smooth, creamy and pale green) with tortilla chips from the same little Mexican market, and I happened to have the dregs of a bag of the aforementioned chips sitting on my counter, I added those as well, for a crunchy toastiness you might get from nuts (or from tortilla strips, for that matter – remember when they were all the rage in salads of the nineties?) – and I somehow loved that they were smashed as well.

But. It is a salad, and as such there are no rules – the measurements are lax, and you can really take any liberties you like with it and it will be just fine. But I did love this combo, and am already plotting another batch for lunch tomorrow, this time with a big handful of chives and maybe some avocado. (It also makes a fine dinner when it’s 32 degrees outside.)

Smashed Salad


June 26, 2017


2-3 baby cucumbers, broken or cut into chunks

a big handful of radishes, broken or cut into chunks

a big handful of jicama cubes (optional)

1/2-1 cup chickpeas, well drained and smashed if you like

1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta

a few leaves of fresh mint, torn or thinly sliced

a couple handfuls of crushed tortilla chips (good ones)


a handful of fresh cilantro

half a jalapeño, seeded and minced

1-2 garlic cloves, peeled

juice of a lime

a big spoonful of mayo (1/4 cup?)

a bit of water, to thin



1Toss all the salad ingredients into a shallow bowl, saving the tortillas to add right before serving.

2To make the dressing, put the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice and mayo into a blender or food processor and pulse until it's as well blended as you can get it. Add a bit of water and a pinch of salt and blend it again until it's smooth. Taste and adjust any of the ingredients as needed.

3Drizzle over the salad, toss to coat and sprinkle with tortilla chips. Serves 4-6.


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18 comments on “Smashed Salad

  1. Vivian
    June 27, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Such a treat for you to explore these weird and wonderful “local” treasures and report back. Most of us never venture further than our nearest grocery store! There seem to be a wealth of hidden gems right in our own backyards . Thank you and Travel Alberta for making us more aware.

    As to the secret pleasure in “smashing” stuff…I’ve always loved to make squashed, semi-cooked baby potatoes on the grill..on a grill mat….am I bad?! (Have you tried any of the BBQ grill mats or packets on the market?)

    • Julie
      June 27, 2017 at 8:58 pm

      Yes, they certainly got us hooked on poking around our own backyards! I haven’t tried the BBQ grill mats! I’ll have to look! and thanks for the reminder about squashed new potatoes!

  2. Lesley
    June 27, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Oh, the forgotten radish. Just an FYI that they are delicious sliced and poached in chicken broth with wontons or potstickers, fresh greens (throw in those spicy radish tops), whatever veggies need to be used up from the fridge, and some fresh green onions and/or cilantro. I usually add garlic, ginger, sambal oelek and fish sauce too.

    • Vivian
      June 27, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Lesley, you just reminded me to go out to the garden and haul up some fine French Breakfast radishes to slather in butter and a touch of sea salt. Why does butter seem to mellow the “bite”?

      • Julie
        June 27, 2017 at 8:55 pm

        Mmmm… wish my radishes grew. They’re huge up top, but nothing underneath!

    • Julie
      June 27, 2017 at 8:56 pm


  3. Marie Goodson
    June 28, 2017 at 10:00 am

    What are breakfast radishes??

    • Julie
      June 28, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      I think they’re like French radishes – longer and without as peppery a bite.

      • Marie Goodson
        June 28, 2017 at 10:42 pm

        Thanks Julie! Marie Goodson

  4. Amy
    July 3, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    I made this last night and it was fab! The garlicky cilantro lime dressing is SO delicious! Thanks, as always, for sharing such tasty eating ideas!

    • Julie
      July 7, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Isn’t it yummy??

  5. Emily
    July 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    What about the peanuts and barley? The peanuts, to me, are integral. Any tips? I’ve loved the smash salad since first having it, and just ate it again tonight and decided to try making it myself.

  6. Emily
    July 23, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Also, a recipe from the New York Times suggests halving the cubes lengthwise, then laying them cut side down and using the flat side of a knife to smash them, much like smashing garlic cloves.

    • Emily
      July 23, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      *cukes, not cubes

    • Julie
      July 27, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Ah! that sounds like it would work brilliantly!

  7. Kelsey
    August 22, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    I’m so happy you posted this! We were in Elkwater this August, and after having lunch at Camp, we returned for supper! And enjoyed the smashed salad for both meals. It was incredible, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I made your version tonight and was thrilled. It will definitely hold me over until we get back to Elkwater next time.

    • Julie
      August 23, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Amazing!! So glad to hear it! I can’t wait to go back!

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