The legend of the Cobb Salad involves a Hollywood chef who threw something together using leftovers and it became famous. Whether or not it’s an accurate story, I’ve always been a fan. Not because Hollywood or because popular, but because bacon, blue cheese, avocado and tomato! Seriously, what’s not to love? And…
The story itself is close to my heart. I think we are all at our most creative when we have a little puzzle to solve. Necessity being the mother of invention or invention being the necessity of mothers… or whatever. For years, I’ve played a little game with myself and tried to get away with making meals out of what was in the house instead of making a trip to the market. This is partly because of the creativity thing and partly because I hate putting on clothes.
When I was in college and procrastinating, I used to make great banquets out of nothing. My roommates used to tease me and say if I had a test coming up, I could make a meal out of an old shoe. That sort of praise made me happier than acing the test. What can I tell you?
So, the Cobb story always appealed to me. And when the kids were teenagers, and showed up with their ravenous friends, I had a lot of fun composing things on the spot just like that. During those years, things with bacon and cheese were very high on the list of things that started as a whim and became favorites.
I decided to compose my own version of the classic Cobb. Mine is different in a few ways. Since it’s spring, and we’ve stoked up the grill, it’s a grilled version. I love romaine with a light wilt and char from fire. And did you know you can grill bacon? The classic Cobb involves canned black olives, which are unacceptable. Period. I considered good, tasty olives, but felt that the cheese and bacon are so salty, I didn’t want another salty element. Since nutty, toasty is missing, and I love nuts on salad, I went with toasted walnuts. Try it, you’ll see how well it works. And most Cobbs are dressed with a simple vinaigrette, which is wonderful. But I like creamy blue with these flavors. It gilds the lily just a bit, but what’s wrong with a little gilding among friends?
Deb’s Grilled Cobb Salad
This will serve 2 very, very generously, 3 perfectly, and 4 if you serve something else like soup and/or bread.
Feel free to use the vinaigrette instead of the creamy blue, if you prefer.
1 large skinless, boneless chicken breast, preferably free range, organic
½ lb. thick cut bacon, preferably humanely raised, no-nitrite
3 eggs, preferably organic, local
2 romaine hearts, cut in half lengthwise
2 tbs. olive oil
2 oz. blue cheese (I like Roquefort best)
2 medium, ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 ripe avocado, cubed
¼ cup toasted walnuts
½ cup creamy blue cheese dressing (recipe below)
Light or preheat a grill (you may use an indoor grill pan).
Cook the eggs until the yolks are just firm. If you haven’t tried the ATK method yet, you are going to thank me! Peel and cut each egg in half.
Put the bacon on a plate between two paper towels and microwave on high for a minute.
Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Rub with 1 tbs. of the olive oil.
Season the lettuce with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining oil.
Grill the chicken for roughly 5 minutes per side or until it is cooked through. Cook to 160° at the thickest. Or nick and peek. Let cool for 5 minutes and then cut into chunks.
Grill the bacon. Watch carefully and move it around if there are flare-ups. Remove each piece as done. Let cool slightly and then rough chop.
Grill the lettuce for about 1 minute per side, just until the pieces get just a little char. Then cut each piece in half lengthwise.
Lay the lettuce quarters in alternating directions in a big, shallow bowl. Then arrange the other ingredients in rows on top. Serve with the dressing.
Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
You may use lowfat mayo and sour cream, but don’t use nonfat.
¼ cup mayo
¼ cup sour cream
1 tsp grainy mustard
juice of 1 lemon
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
a few tsps. milk to thin, if desired
Mix all ingredients, mashing the cheese a bit. Serve.