Do WOP Chopped

The term “Wop” has long been used in America and has evolved into a derogatory ethnic slur for people of Italian origin or descent. The term has been erroneously explained to mean “Without Papers” by those who resented Italian immigrants and later by Italians themselves. Coincidentally, the initials W.O.P. were used to signify Warrants, Orders, Passes which was a term used by the United States Government to represent documents from the old country.

However, the expression ”Wop” likely derived from the Neapolitan word “guappo” used by Italian immigrants to describe native men who try too hard to act brave, play cool, and impress the girls. Originally, the Guapperia was a criminal organization (similar to the Sicilian “Mafiosi”) from the Campania province of Italy where Naples is located. 

Since the 1930s, New Orleans restaurateurs have employed the term to describe a salad consisting of iceberg lettuce tossed with anchovies and Italian olive salad; the same olive salad used in the ever-popular muffuletta sandwich.

Our version is a take on the classic Wop salad with a modern day twist. Chopped salads are on more and more menus of late, and for good reason. Fresh salad ingredients are chopped into bite-sized pieces, so every bite has several ingredients.

There are no real secrets to creating a good chopped salad. They start with fresh ingredients that are chopped in uniform, pieces and either composed or tossed, depending on the style of the salad. Chopped salads can generally be made well in advance of serving and the ingredients can be served together or separately so the diner can build his or her own dish.

Italian Olive Salad Recipe
  • 1 cup large pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets, steamed
  • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped and steamed
  • 1/4 cup celery, chopped and steamed
  • 1/4 cup cocktail onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

Place a large pot with a steamer basket or colander fit inside. Fill the pot with enough water to just reach the bottom of the colander or steamer basket. Once the water comes to a boil, place cauliflower, chopped carrots and celery in the steamer basket and cover loosely. Allow vegetables to steam for about 5-6 minutes until just tender.

Allow vegetables to cool before combining all ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.  You can store any leftover olive salad in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Chopped Wop Salad
  • 1 medium head of Iceberg lettuce
  • ½ cup Italian olive salad with oil (see recipe above)
  • 1 tablespoon non-pareil capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 2-oz can of anchovy filets, drained (reserve oil)
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the outer leaves of the head of Iceberg lettuce and then remove the core. If you will be using the whole head of lettuce, the easiest way to remove the core is to slam the base of the head firmly on your countertop. The core will dislodge easily. Simply pull it out and discard. Then cut the lettuce into bite size pieces and drop into your salad bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together olive salad, capers, lemon juice and anchovy oil and mix together well. Then toss the olive mixture with the chopped lettuce in the salad bowl adding salt and pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to toss all the ingredients together. Add more olive oil if needed to fully coat the lettuce.

Fold salad out onto your serving dish and arrange anchovy filets over the top and garnish with chopped green onions if desired. Remember that the salt will begin to leach water from the vegetables making the lettuce limp, so don’t wait too long to serve (unless of course you like it a little limp and marinated.) To give it a bit more "Wop authenticity," we add a few pepperoncini on the side as a garnish.