Cobb’ed together

Posted by Anita on 05.10.08 5:48 PM

Our usual Saturday breakfast excursions to Primavera — the legendary Mexican-food stall at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market — are not without a downside. Eating a big plate of chilaquiles or fish tacos or tostadas de ceviche at 9am means we’re rarely hungry for lunch before mid-afternoon.

Sometimes we’re smart enough to start supper preparations early enough to head off the inevitable 4 o’clock stomach-rumblings. But more often than not, we’re grabbing leftovers or heading to one of our local cheap-eats standbys for a quick bite. Of course, this course of action only prolongs our agony: In our hunger, we eat a full meal.. and then we’re rarely in the mood for for a full-sized dinner. But if we skip our usual evening meal, we often find ourselves hungry again by bedtime.

Clearly, the smart thing to would be to plan for this eventuality, stocking the larder with a few larger-than-snack, smaller-than-meal options for weekend needs. Obviously, we’re not too bright; we know we need to do this, but it’s one of those things that just ain’t glamorous enough to make it to the top of the to-do list.

Last weekend, while rooting through the fridge, I realized that we had all the makings of a really fabulous Cobb salad. (I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to notice this; it’s not like eggs, bacon, or avocados are any stranger to our kitchen.) Even if we had been lacking one of the main ingredients — tomatoes aren’t always in season, and avocados do go away for a few months, even here in California — this meat-blessed salad makes an adaptable standby, ready to alleviate hunger pangs without stuffing you to the gills.

The best part of making a Cobb at home isn’t that you get to use fabulous ingredients, although that’s undeniably a strong argument in favor of the do-it-yourself approach. No, the very best reason is that you get to toss the damned thing in a proper bowl before plating it. Don’t get me wrong: A prettily composed Cobb is a thing of beauty. But whenever I order one at a restaurant, I end up regretting it. The first few bites are fine, but by the time I’m halfway done, my tastebuds are exhausted by the onslaught of salty, potent flavors. If I push on bravely, I’m left with underdressed, undergarnished lettuce at the bottom of a very sad bowl.

My mom’s a fan of the Cobb salad — and, yes, she’s as neurotic about un-tossed salads as I am. (Maybe that’s where I got it? Hmm…) So whipping up a Cobb salad seems like an especially appropriate Mother’s Day treat.

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Cobb Salad
– serves 4 as a main course
10-12 cups torn lettuce
- preferably a combination of romaine, red leaf, and something spiky like frisee or escarole
8 strips of bacon, cooked medium-crisp
1 to 2 cups cooked chicken
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 medium avocados
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (or 1 cup diced radishes when tomatoes aren’t in season)
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
2T chopped fresh chives

2T red-wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed*
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil

Cut the bacon, chicken, eggs, and avocado into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.

Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking until emulsified.

Toss the lettuce with 2/3 of the dressing, and arrange the tossed lettuce on a deep platter or shallow pasta-serving bowl. Toss the chicken cubes with the remaining dressing, and place the chicken in the center of the lettuce, in a tidy pile. Surround the chicken with the remaining ingredients, each one stacked in its own pile. Sprinkle the composed salad with chives.

Show off your beautiful salad to your dining companions, then return to the kitchen to toss all ingredients together. Serve in 4 chilled pasta bowls or other entree-sized shallow bowls.

* I’m not normally in favor of the garlic press, but I think that making salad dressings is one application where it really shines.

cooking, locavore, recipes



Comment by Laura

I continue my belief that I want to live in your kitchen… What a perfect spring meal – I think we’ll have to make a cobb this week, although I know that my version won’t be anywhere as beautiful as yours.

Thanks for the recipe!

Posted on 05.10.08 at 11:04PM

Comment by cookiecrumb

I would have to have a chocolate milkshake with that.
You might not understand; it’s a vague childhood restaurant memory (that I associate with Southern California… so maybe you would).


Posted on 05.11.08 at 12:48PM

Comment by Kevin

That salad looks really good!

Posted on 05.11.08 at 4:11PM

Comment by Melicob

Your cobb looks delicious and inspiring! (Plus, I’m delighted to find I’m not the only one with un-tossed salad issues!)


Posted on 05.12.08 at 8:15AM

Comment by Mom

Yummmm – wish I had been there to eat it – and on Mother’s Day :)

Posted on 05.12.08 at 1:15PM

Comment by Zoomie

Looks delicious and I like your solution for avoiding the bare lettuce at the bottom of the bowl!

Posted on 05.13.08 at 7:18AM

Comment by Tartelette

I am such a bad friend for not beig around as much but I knew I would be dined well when I saw this fabulous salad! So good!

Posted on 05.21.08 at 12:38AM

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