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2: Stetson Chopped Salad at Cowboy Ciao

Hungry yet? We're working up our appetites for our huge Best of Phoenix issue, which hits the streets tomorrow, with daily servings of Chow Bella's 100 Favorite Dishes from across the Valley -- in no particular order.

Visit our sister blog, Jackalope Ranch, for a companion series on 100 Creatives who make Phoenix a little more interesting for all of us. We'll be posting the final "100 Favorite Dishes" pick this afternoon, so stay tuned.

Number 2: Stetson Chopped salad at Cowboy Ciao


Not long ago, chef Bernie Kantak -- who was the longtime chef at Cowboy Ciao -- told me that a new pizzeria he'd consulted for would be serving a version of the famous salad he created for this tried and true Old Town hangout. Apparently, he's also seen his salad pop up on menus around the country. Everyone wants it.

"It's haunting me," he said, laughing.

But is that such a bad thing? His creation is a modern-day classic. 

The presentation is fun -- all the ingredients are striped across the bowl, so you have to mix it together. Israeli couscous, sweet dried corn kernels, bits of smoked salmon, chopped tomatoes, pepitas, dried currants, arugula and Asiago cheese all mingle with creamy pesto buttermilk dressing. The result is a colorful melange of bright, salty, and smoky flavors, and unexpected textures. 

Will the Stetson Chopped end up becoming as famous as a Cobb or a Caesar? It really should.
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