So I used to be a salad lover. That was back when I cared lots about nutrition and fitness (aka "before I became a baker" haha). But then I ate too much that I got sick of it. The occasional restaurant salad would satisfy me, but home salads? Yuck! I would usually make one with much effort, but then only eat a quarter of it. I would buy fresh salad ingredients, but then let it go un-fresh because I never felt like making it. And so I am no longer a salad lover.
But there are three salads that I love. Three salads that make me smile and tickle my taste buds. And being quite filling, I would rarely feel unsatisfied after a bowl of salad. (Mostly because they are piled with lots of protein, which is good for you, by the way). The three salads are Cobb salad, Salad Niçoise, and Wild Mushroom Arugula salad. So I thought I would remake these at home and maybe for those of you who are like me and have grown to dislike salads, it will be an invitation to try out the leafy delight again.
This salad here is the Cobb Salad. It's quite similar to the Chef's Salad. It was created in the mid-1920's by restaurateur Bob Cobb at his Brown Derby Restaurant in LA. How do I know this, you ask? Well, it's because I have a cookbook! I borrowed Joy of Cooking's "All about salads and dressings" and got the recipe here. I actually substituted a lot of it with my own ingredients, and it looked quite similar to the Chef Salad. But anyway. I love the array of flavors and textures in the salad. It has tons of protein to fill you up: boiled egg, chicken, bacon, cheese! Lots of fat (good fats) to make you happy: cheese, avocado, olive oil. And enough greens for a clean taste: bibb lettuce, watercress, green onions.
One of the key key KEY things about a good tasting salad is that it is not soggy with water, or with dressing. A salad spinner is great for a crisp tasting salad. I was happy when I got this for two reasons: one, obviously because it dries herbs and greens really fast, and two, cuz it's just so fun using it! And it's important not to soak and drench the salad with dressing. Yuck. You want it to be enough to flavor and combine the different ingredients -- not overpower it. But anywho, enough words and explanations, here is the recipe. For my substitutions and notes, it is written in italics.
from Joy of Cooking: All About Salads & Dressings
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup red wine vinegar I ran out of it, so I used Balsamic Vinegar, which was just fabulous!
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Roquefort or other blue cheese, crumbled I found the mildest blue cheese I could find. My sister isn't the biggest fan of blue cheese.
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup olive oil
1 head Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves, washed, and dried
1 large bunch watercress, tough stems trimmed, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped.
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
4 to 6 diced cooked chicken or turkey breast I just used sliced cooked turkey breast from the deli
6 to 8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled I really don't like bacon, so I used sliced smoke ham from the deli instead
3 hard boiled eggs, diced
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely snipped fresh chives I am a huge lover of green onions. So I used them instead
1/4 cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
1. Mash togethr the garlic and 1/4 tsp of salt in a small bowl until a small paste is formed. Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 cup cheese, salt and pepper (to taste). Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Make sure you do this correctly so that the dressing will combine together and not separate and get all oily.
2. Line a platter with the Bibb lettuce. Arrange on top of the lettuce leaves the rest of the ingredients, in a manner where each of the ingredient is grouped side by side.
4. Lightly drizzle the vinegar over the salad and serve.