Grilled squash and corn replace tomatoes and cheese in this Harvest Cobb Salad. Photo courtesy TheBakerChick.com.
Today’s tip comes from Audra Fullerton, The Baker Chick, one of our favorite food bloggers (and food photographers).
She created a Cobb Salad with fall ingredients, that serves as the inspiration to many other fall salads to come.
Since tomatoes are now entering the sub-optimal period, she uses grilled squash in her Cobb Salad. She doesn’t use cheese, but if you want to, make it a deep orange or gold color*.
As another shout-out to the fall season, there’s maple vinaigrette.
Audra does it all in a little New York City apartment with a tiny kitchen and no grill. She says, “The chicken and corn are fabulous on the grill. I used my large cast iron skillet to cook pretty much everything—squash, corn, bacon and chicken. Either way works.”
Salads are very adaptable, and you can add your favorite mix-ins, from dried cranberries to toasted pecans.
Our own signature fall salad is modeled after Thanksgiving dinner:
It’s a mesclun mix topped with cubed turkey and sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts; the vinaigrette is mixed with a tablespoon of chunky cranberry sauce. Sometimes we add a scoop of stove top stuffing, since it’s easy to make and croutons just don’t equate.
RECIPE: HARVEST COBB SALAD WITH MAPLE VINAIGRETTE
Ingredients For 4 Servings
For The Salad
10 cups of salad greens
1 small acorn squash
1 ear of corn
10 strips of bacon
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil as needed
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A few dashes of paprika
Option: beets, diced or crumbled cheese*, roasted or raw apples, pecans for added crunch
For The Vinaigrette
*For a deep harvest orange or gold cheese, check out Basiron Pesto Rosso, Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar, English Cheddar With Harissa, Extra Triple Aged Gouda, Huntsman Cheese, Mimolette, Pecorino With Chile Flakes and Saxonshire Cheese.
Audra notes: “The ingredients for the salad can be prepped in any fashion/order you choose, but I have laid out the process which found to be pretty efficient, both in terms of time and dishes used.”
1. PREPARE the squash: Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the squash into 1-inch strips. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the skin and scoop out the seeds.
2. HEAT a cast-iron skillet to medium high. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the pan; when hot, add the squash rings in one layer. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover the skillet—you want to create steam. Steam for 3-5 minutes; flip and repeat. When the squash is browned and tender, transfer to a cutting board. When cool, cut into chunks.
3. WIPE the pan and reheat to medium high. Add another drizzle of olive oil. Place the ear of corn in the center of the pan and let it cook without flipping for 3-5 minutes; rotate slightly and repeat. (Letting it sit on the heat for a few minutes is what makes it char.) Keep flipping the corn until it is golden and a bit charred. Remove from the heat and transfer to the cutting board. When cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob. Set aside
California Pizza Kitchen creates a Cobb Salad with beets and blue cheese. Photo courtesy KPC.
4. COOK the bacon. Wipe the pan and cook the strips on medium heat, using tongs to flip until evenly cooked and crispy. (You may need to do this in 2 batches.) Set aside to cool, then coarsely chop or crumble. Pour out the bacon grease (you can reserve it to cook eggs, potatoes, whatever) and wipe out the skillet about 75% of the way; you want a little of the bacon grease and fond (the crisp tiny bit) to cook the chicken in.
5. COOK the chicken. Season the breasts with salt and pepper and a bit of paprika for color (you can add other spices if you wish). Cook on medium heat, adding a touch of olive oil if pan seems dry. Flip each breast after 3-5 minutes depending on thickness. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.
6. COOK the eggs. This part can be done while some of the other ingredients are cooking. Place 3 eggs in a small pot of water and turn the heat to high. Once boiling, cook for 5 minutes. Drain the hot water and immediately submerge the eggs in cold water for a few minutes. Peel and slice the eggs.
7. MAKE the dressing. Whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar and olive oil, tasting to see if you’d like it sweeter or more vinegary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. ASSEMBLE the salad. Top the greens with all the prepared ingredients except the avocado and bacon. Halve, cube and add the avocado right before serving. Drizzle the dressing over the top. Add the bacon at the table (or immediately before bringing the dishes to table) so it acquire moisture from the salad and lose its crunch.
COBB SALAD HISTORY
Cobb Salad was invented in Hollywood. Late one evening in 1937, Bob Cobb, owner of The Brown Derby restaurant, was scrounging in the kitchen’s refrigerator for a snack. He grabbed a mix of ingredients: a head of iceberg lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, a cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese and some old-fashioned French dressing.
He then took some crisp bacon from a chef’s station and started chopping. He shared the snack with his friend Sid Grauman of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, who came back and asked for a “Cobb Salad” the next day. It was put on the menu and became an overnight sensation. Movie mogul Jack Warner regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick one up.