To Cobb or Not to Cobb?

Having a huge salad for lunch or dinner is a good thing. All your nutrition and healthy stuff lumped together in one bowl topped with a nice vinaigrette or creamy ranch is just about (calories aside, of course) the best meal you can make.  I am a big fan of the Cobb salad. Ok, let me modify that, I really like everything about a Cobb salad EXCEPT for the blue cheese is inexorably linked with the original version of the dish. When I’m splitting one of these babies with my friend Arlene I inevitably ask for the blue cheese to be served on the side so she (who is still one of my dearest friends despite her unreasonable penchant for blue cheese) can have my portion. Since I never met I recipe I didn’t try and change and since the blue cheese is a key ingredient in the original recipe I thought it might be fun to find as many blue cheese free variations as I could on the theme.

The original Cobb salad was created in about 1936 by Robert Cobb, owner of the famous Hollywood eatery the Brown Derby. He was supposedly strolling through his kitchen one night, got an attack of the munchies and decided to make himself a little snack, a salad. He supposedly started pulling things out of the refrigerator and put together a unique and spectacular salad. The salad became an instant hit on the menu and variations of it have been served everywhere since.

Regardless of the ingredients you choose to use, include, delete or experiment with, the presentation of the Cobb salad plays an integral part in its appeal. The ingredients should be uniformly chopped, diced or julienned, arranged in stripes on top the lettuce, and dressed with a dressing (it can be served on the side too). The original Cobb salad dressing was a French dressing. Today’s new and improved Cobb salads are usually offered with either a house “special” dressing or the dinner’s choice. Since French dressing goes especially well with blue cheese those of you that must have it in your salad might want to try that variety first.

In my not so humble opinion a Cobb salad, other than the original recipe, is a variation on a theme salad that reflect a creative chefs need to throw everything but the kitchen sink in a bowl and serve it. The following recipes exemplify that quality and if none of them suite your fancy or palate, go ahead and create your own.

Note that in all the recipes the measurement of the ingredients included is not an exact science can be modified up or down to accommodate your own personal preferences or desires.

EILEENS TAKE ON A CLA SSIC COBB SALAD

3 to 4 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped or shredded
1 small bunch curly endive, torn into small pieces
2 to 3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped or shredded
1/4 cup green onions sliced thin
2 tomatoes, diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
6 to 8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 to 2 avocado, peeled and diced or sliced
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup French Dressing

Mix all the lettuce and green onions together in a large bowl. Arrange the mixed greens on a large shallow platter, in a serving bowl or arrange on individual serving dishes. Place the tomatoes, chicken, bacon, avocado and eggs in rows (strips) or like spokes on a wheel on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Drizzle the dressing on top and toss OR serve the dressing on the side, which ever you prefer. Serves 6

CRAB COBB SALAD

6 cups red leaf and romaine lettuce chopped or torn into pieces

1 lb cooked crab meat (the fake stuff is ok)
1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or blue cheese if you must)
6 to 7 pieces of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup ready made red wine vinaigrette dressing (low fat is ok)

Place the torn or chopped lettuce in the bottom of a wide bowl. Decoratively arrange, in rows or like spokes on a wheel, the crabmeat, tomatoes, cheese, onion and bacon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad just before serving or serve the dressing on the side, which ever you prefer.  Serves 4

modified from a recipe submitted by Aimee Konover NY, NY

EILEEN’S COBB SANDWICH

1/4 cup French dressing

4 croissants split in half

Red lettuce leaves

1 tomato, sliced thin

1 avocado sliced thin

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

4 slices Canadian bacon

3 hard cooked eggs, sliced

Spread the French dressing on both sides of the cut croissant. Place the lettuce on top of one cut half. Place the tomato, Canadian bacon, avocado, sprouts and the slices of egg on top of the lettuce. Cover the bottom half of the sandwich with the top of the croissant and secure with a toothpick.  Serves 4

ASIAN COBB SALAD

There is no cheese in this recipe but if you must try a shredded Munster or Havarti

6 to 8 grilled chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

3 to 4 avocados, peeled and diced

3 cups chopped lettuce (romaine, bib, spring greens etc)

3 cups Napa cabbage, shredded

3 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

1⁄2 cup bean sprouts

1 cup sugar snap peas

2 to 3 tablespoons green onions, sliced

3 to 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1 cup rice noodles

1/2 cup toasted almonds

Dressing:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili flakes

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and cover. Shake to combine and set aside. In large serving bowl, mix the shredded lettuce, cabbage, snap peas, bean sprouts, and parsley. Toss to combine. On top of the lettuce mixture decoratively place the chicken, avocados, carrots, green onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle the rice noodles and almonds on top. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad and serve. Serves 8

GRILLED SALMON COBB

2 to 3 lbs salmon steaks, grilled (leftover salmon works great too)

4 to 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce

6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 to 2 avocados, peeled, sliced, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 red pepper, sliced thin

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup store bought garlic vinaigrette dressing (low fat is fine)

Grill the salmon any way you like. Let cool and cut into bite size pieces. Place the lettuce in a salad bowl. Arrange the avocado, tomato, pepper and bacon on the top. Place the grilled salmon on top of that and then top with the feta. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve. Serves 6

Submitted by Carol Springer-Miller Lake Forest IL

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Julie
    Oct 17, 2010 @ 17:04:20

    I’m excited to try the Asian Cobb Salad- perfect for Shabbat lunch!

    Reply

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