The Cobb Salad endures on restaurant menus, decades after once-popular luncheon salads such as Allerton Salad, aspics, Russian Salad, spinach salad (with mushrooms and bacon), stuffed tomatoes and Waldorf Salad have faded into obscurity.
And thank goodness it’s still here, because it’s one of our favorites.
THE HISTORY OF THE COBB SALAD
Late one evening in 1937, Bob Cobb, owner of The Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, was scrounging in the kitchen’s refrigerator for a snack. He grabbed a head of iceberg lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, a cold breast of chicken, a hard-cooked egg, chives, blue cheese and some old-fashioned French dressing*, took some crisp bacon from one of the chefs and started chopping.
He shared the salad with his friend Sid Grauman, proprietor 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. Customers like movie mogul Jack Warner regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick one up.
Cobb Salads are often served with the ingredients in rows. Photo by S. Brogan | IST.
Since then, the salad has often been served with the ingredients laid out on the plate in rows, rather than tossed or with the other ingredients layered atop the greens, like a chef salad.
People who don‘t like blue cheese substitute Cheddar. People who don’t like tomatoes substitute red pepper. People who don’t eat bacon substitute kidney beans.
There have been variations like Wolfgang Puck’s Lobster Cobb Salad. And now, here’s the Cobb Sandwich.
Ingredients For 4 Servings
Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup puréed avocado
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices sourdough bread
2 ounces mixed greens
8 slices tomato
8 ounces smoked chicken or turkey, sliced (we substituted chunky chicken salad: chunks of chicken lightly dressed with tarragon mayonnaise
8 strips bacon, fried crisp
The evolution of the Cobb Salad: the Cobb
Sandwich. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
1. COMBINE blue cheese and mayonnaise in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.
2. MIX the avocado purée, lemon juice, salt and pepper until well blended.
3. ASSEMBLE: Spread one bread slice with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the blue cheese mayonnaise. Layer the mixed greens, 2 tomato slices, 2 ounces smoked turkey and 2 bacon strips on the bread. Spread another slice of bread with the avocado purée, and top the other half of the sandwich. Repeat to make three more sandwiches.
RECIPE: ASIAN COBB SALAD
Can you call something a Cobb Salad variation when the only ingredients it shares with the original are lettuce and chicken—ingredients common to more than a few salads? We’d say no, but we like this salad with a more appropriate name, like Asian Chicken Salad.
Ingredients For 8 Servings
For The Dressing
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups chopped lettuce (iceberg or romaine)
3 cups napa cabbage, shredded
6 to 8 grilled chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
4 avocados, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
1-1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, halved
3 tablespoons green onions, sliced
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 cup rice noodles
1/2 cup toasted almonds
For The Salad
1. COMBINE the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Cover and shake to combine. Set aside.
2. MIX the lettuce, cabbage, snow/snap peas, bean sprouts and parsley in large serving bowl; toss to combine. Arrange the chicken, avocados, carrots, green onions and mushrooms on top.
3. SPRINKLE the rice noodles and almonds on top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.
*The French use vinaigrette—oil and vinegar—as a salad dressing. Originally, “French dressing” was synonymous with vinaigrette. Over time, a sweet, decidedly non-French, orange-colored vinaigrette (from ketchup, not a very French condiment) appeared in the U.S. and Canada. It’s what “French dressing” is today. To make it, combine 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of salt. Our mother halved the sugar and threw in a clove of garlic.